Teeth 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 teeth whitening system that will whiten teeth dramatically in some cases. The main issue with take home systems is the need to wear the trays with bleaching solution for multiple hours often having to sleep in trays in order to achieve the 10 hour per day goal. In addition this must be done 14 straight days without fail, if you miss a day you have another day to your wear time. I find that many patients have a hard time completing the 14 day tray wearing cycle. I normally recommend using a "power bleach technique". This entails both an in office whitening as well as the take home tray and has been more predictable in achieving the level of whitening that most people seek. The ten hour wear time can be reduced to 6-8 hours per day though 14 day wear cycle is still in effect. Tooth whitening will change the shade/color crowns, veneers or fillings and only works on natural teeth, so if you have crowns on your front teeth they will have to be replaced after bleaching to match your new whiter shade. Veneer color change treatment is improved if your teeth are whitened before the veneers are done for a more natural looking finished smile product.
Teeth whitening is not permanent. A touch-up may be needed and more often if you smoke, drink coffee, tea, or wine. With a take home tray you can simply purchase more at home bleach solution and restart a 14 cycle, this is enough in most cases to bring your whitening back to the proper shade.
Reasons for teeth whitening:
Fluorosis (excessive fluoridation during tooth development).
Normal wear of outer tooth layer.
Stained teeth due to medications (tetracycline, etc.).
Yellow, brown stained teeth.
Aging, teeth naturally darken with age as the blood flow to the tooth decreases.
What does teeth whitening involve?
Teeth whitening usually requires two visits. At the first appointment, impressions (molds) will be made of your teeth to fabricate custom, clear, plastic, trays. These trays are specially designed to seal at the gum line to prevent saliva from mixing with the whitening solution. Saliva actually deactivates the whitening solution due an enzyme that breaks down the peroxide base of the material. This is main reason over the counter and internet purchased solutions do not work.
At your second appointment, you will try on the trays for proper fit, and adjustments will be made if necessary. The trays are worn with special whitening solution either twice a day for 30 minutes or overnight 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. The in office portion of tooth whitening involves the use of a stronger than take home whitening solution where your gum tissues will have a protective coating placed to prevent any irritation during the process. After the power bleaching you will use the take home tray portion for the 14 day cycle.
You will receive care instructions for your teeth and trays, and be encouraged to visit our office regularly to help maintain your new beautiful, healthy, white smile.