Professional teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures for its fast results and pain-free application. Patients see teeth stains rapidly fade and are less likely to experience tooth or gum sensitivity following the procedure, opposed to at-home kits.
Basics of Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening involves a peroxide-based bleaching gel mixed with potassium nitrate or fluoride. Professional whitening uses a much higher concentration solution than at-home kits, so the dentist can leave the gel on for a shorter period of time for maximum results. At-home kits that sit for longer can lead to tooth cracks or greater sensitivity.
Types of Teeth Whitening Procedures
Smile Dental Center offers three basic teeth whitening procedures:
- At-Home Guidance: During your appointment, we’ll determine the ideal whitening solutions for you.
- In-Office Whitening: Your dentist will apply a peroxide-based gel to lift stains and lighten teeth.
- Microabrasion: For some patients, peroxide is not enough. Microabrasion utilizes hydrochloric acid and pumice to remove fine layers of enamel and discoloration.
How Professional Teeth Whitening Works
Before the peroxide solution is applied, your dentist cleans off plaque and tartar from your gums and addresses any cavities. Your teeth need to be completely clean for the whitening procedure to be most effective.
During your exam, we’ll also look for signs of tooth decay, cracks and gum disease, all of which can be aggravated by teeth whitening. These issues need to be addressed before a future teeth whitening appointment is scheduled.
As the whitening procedure begins:
- A cheek retractor exposes your teeth and a rubber shield protects your gums once the whitening solution is applied.
- Your dentist applies the bleaching agent, which sits for 15 to 30 minutes.
- You may undergo a second application during the procedure for additional lightening.
- Light, which can enhance the bleaching process, may also be used afterward.
- Once all steps are complete, the dentist removes the cheek retractor and will rinse off the rest of the solution. At this point, the dentist will measure how much lighter the teeth now are. As a result of dehydration, the teeth may appear lighter initially, but actual color will settle in after a few days.
- Your dentist may also have you fitted for a custom whitening tray to take home. On average, patients have three whitening treatments and at-home trays help the results last longer.
- Your dentist will also review habits that can worsen staining, including red wine, coffee and tobacco use.
Are You a Candidate for Teeth Whitening?
Who might benefit from professional teeth whitening? Individuals who have yellowed teeth see the greatest results and may find their teeth three to eight shades lighter after a series of procedures. Teeth that have developed a brown patina might see a difference but won’t experience the full effects.
Unfortunately, not every stain benefits from teeth whitening, including damage from trauma, use of Tetracycline and fluorosis-related tooth discoloration.
Additionally, teeth whitening is not ideal in the following situations:
- Individuals with tooth and gum hypersensitivity
- Darker staining, particularly if your teeth appear black or purple
- Aging teeth that have started to appear transparent
Are you experiencing pain following a recent whitening procedure? We see emergencies same day!