Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening is extremely popular cosmetic dentistry procedure that delivers beautiful results quickly and easily.  With the latest advanced whitening techniques, your dentist can give you a dazzling, long-lasting white smile in almost no time. 

Teeth Whitening

How does it work?

Whitening is a safe and effective way to quickly deliver a dramatic change to your smile.  As we age, minerals penetrate the enamel of our teeth and darken them.  Certain factors also affect the whiteness of our teeth.

Your dentist has different options available for whitening teeth, but generally it is accomplished by applying a bleaching gel directly to the teeth.  The active ingredient in this gel, usually hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, breaks down and forces oxygen into the enamel and dentin of your tooth structure.  The oxygen breaks down the stains and makes teeth whiter, without hurting the structure of the teeth.

Factors that affect the whiteness of your teeth include:

Age.  Some staining and discoloration is natural as we age since we accumulate stains from foods and beverages and other elements over the years.

Tobacco Use. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco all stain teeth, especially after long-term repeated exposure.  These stains can be minimized and often virtually eliminated by professional dental whitening.  However, continued use after the whitening process will affect how long the whitening lasts.

Food and Beverages.  Some foods, like colas, red wine, tea and coffee, stain teeth, especially after long-term repeated exposure.  These stains can be minimized and often virtually eliminated by professional dental whitening.  However, continued use after the whitening process will affect how long the whitening lasts.

Medications.  In some cases, medication can cause stains or tooth darkening.  These stains can be some of the most stubborn and difficult to remove. Flourosis, a condition caused by too much fluoride, can cause discoloration, as can tetracycline and some antibiotics used during childhood years.  Your doctor can explain how professional whitening can help in these situations.

How long does it take?

The length of time the bleaching process takes depends on the method used and the type of stains being removed.  In-office procedures typically take one to three hours.  With take-home whitening procedures, results can typically be seen in as little as three to four days, with the final result commonly taking about two weeks.  Of course the degree of staining and the level of desired whiteness are factors in the total time.

Is whitening for me?

Whitening produces results in over ninety percent of patients, and it doesn’t hurt teeth.  Different factors will affect the process, and some people are better candidates than others.  In general, yellow and light brown teeth, stained over a period of years make excellent candidates, while darker brown or grayish stains require special techniques.  Whitening will not lighten artificial material in your moth like bonding, fillings and veneers.  Those with sensitive teeth, damaged teeth, gum disease, and pregnant women are encouraged to discuss their conditions with their dentist.

What are the different whitening options?

Take-home whitening kits

Take-home whitening kits are an affordable and effective way for many people to achieve excellent whitening results.  After preparing your teeth for whitening, the dentist takes impressions of your teeth and fabricates plastic trays molded specifically to fit your mouth.   At home, you fill the trays with the whitening gel and fit them over your teeth.  The trays hold the gel in contact with the teeth and are worn for a specified period of time.  Some treatments are specifically designed to be worn overnight while you sleep.  The trays are typically worn daily for ten to fourteen days (or nights), or until the desired whiteness is achieved.

In-office procedures

In-office procedures, sometimes called laser bleaching or power bleaching, are safe and effective methods to whiten teeth in the fastest way possible.  Most in-office whitening takes one to three hours, including preparation time.  Many patients prefer in-office bleaching because it offers instant results.

Once the teeth are prepared for whitening the dentist applies the gel to the surface of the teeth and it remains on the teeth for about an hour while you relax comfortably in the chair.  In some instances a laser or special light is used to assist the gel in the whitening process.

What is Zoom whitening?

Zoom whitening is offered in both a take-home and an in-office system.  Most people make good candidates for the in-office procedure which produces excellent results in little more than an hour.   This involves application of a hydrogen peroxide gel and the unique patented Zoom light.  Once the dentist has prepared the teeth, he applies the gel and projects the zoom light directly on the treated teeth for about an hour. 

Why is whitening from my dentist better than using an over-the-counter product?

Over the counter products are not as effective or long lasting as the techniques offered by your dentist.  Additionally the trays that hold the whitening gel are not custom fitted, and could allow leakage that irritates gums. 

What preparation does a dentist do before whitening the teeth?

Your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth to determine if you are a good candidate for whitening, and what is the best method for your needs.  A dental cleaning is always a good idea to make sure that the whitening gel can easily contact the clean, prepared surfaces of your teeth.  Your dentist will also repair any damaged or sensitive teeth and address any cavity or gum problems before proceeding with the whitening procedure.

What results can I expect?

Whitening produces results in over ninety percent of patients, and it doesn’t hurt teeth. Typical results can produce a change of several shades of whiteness, lasting three to five years.  Different factors affect how long the process takes, what method is used and how long the whitening lasts.

Is whitening safe?

The American Dental association has approved whitening products, and clinical trials and studies have found them to be safe and effective.  Most people suffer no side effects from whitening procedures, but some sensitivity to hot and cold foods is possible.  This typically last for less than 48 hours.

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