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Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of natural tooth enamel and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile.

Because having whiter teeth has now become the number one aesthetic concern of most patients, there are a number of ways to whiten teeth.  The most popular method is using a home tooth whitening system that will gradually and dramatically whiten teeth in many cases.  A second method is an in-office procedure which will achieve results in less time and then is followed up with home whitening to achieve optimal results. Since tooth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc.  Replacement of any restorations will be done after bleaching so they will match the newly bleached teeth.

Tooth whitening is not permanent.  A touch-up maybe needed every several years, and more often if you smoke, drink coffee, tea, or wine.  The benefit of home whitening is that you retain the plastic trays and whitening gel for use as you need it.

Reasons for tooth whitening:

  • Fluorosis (excessive fluoridation during tooth development).
  • Normal wear of outer tooth layer.
  • Stained teeth due to medications (tetracycline, etc.).
  • Yellow, brown stained teeth.

What does tooth whitening involve?

Preparation for home whitening usually requires two visits.  At the first appointment, impressions (molds) will be made of your teeth to fabricate custom, clear plastic, trays.

At your second appointment, you will try on the trays for proper fit, and adjustments will be made if necessary.  Thorough instructions including the following are given at this appointment. The trays are worn with special whitening solution a couple of hours each day for a couple of weeks depending on the degree of staining and desired level of whitening.  It is normal to experience tooth sensitivity during the time you are whitening your teeth, but it will subside shortly after you have stopped bleaching.  Another benefit of home whitening is that you are able to stop the process if the sensitivity becomes too great and proceed when you are comfortable.  Your results in this case will still be achieved, but on your own comfortable time frame.

In-office whitening also requires two appointments, the first of which is used to obtain impressions and answer any questions you may have.  For the in-office procedure we make trays for you that are used both for fluoride treatments prior to the in-office procedure to help reduce potential sensitivity during treatment AND for whitening gel after your visit to obtain optimal whitening and to touch up your results in the future.  Your whitening treatment is performed at your second visit and may involve one of several systems like ZOOM!, depending on what we determine may be most effective for your case.  All systems have their limitations and benefits and we will gladly discuss these with you prior to scheduling you for treatment.

You will receive care instructions for your teeth and trays, and be encouraged to visit us regularly to help maintain a beautiful, healthy, white smile.