Teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to brighten your smile. It can lighten teeth that are stained or discolored from frequent consumption of darkly pigmented beverages (coffee, tea, soda, red wine, etc.), the aging process, tooth trauma, and/or tobacco usage.
What are my options for teeth whitening?
1) In-office Whitening: This method provides the fastest results and uses the strongest whitening gels available. First, your gums are covered with a protective barrier. Next, plastic retractors will be placed to hold your lips and cheeks away from your teeth before a professional strength peroxide gel is applied. The gel remains for about 15-20 minutes and is removed and reapplied for 2-3 additional cycles. Treatment may take one hour to one and a half hours to complete. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled 1-2 weeks later to evaluate and discuss the results.
2) Take-Home Whitening Trays: This method is also very effective and involves customized trays. First, upper and lower molds of your teeth will be taken and two clear plastic trays will be created and given to you. At home, you can fill these upper and lower trays with the whitening gel we provide and wear them for about an hour at a time. Since they are custom-made, they will fit comfortably and allow intimate contact of the bleaching gel with your teeth. It may require several weeks of consistent application to produce the desired results.
How do I maintain the results from teeth whitening?
The results from a single in-office teeth whitening session can last between 6 months to 2 years. In order to maintain a bright and attractive smile for a long time, there are several things you can do. First, brush and floss every day, while maintaining your regular schedule of professional dental cleanings. Also, try to avoid foods and beverages that can stain, including coffee, tea, soda and red wine. If you do have a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine, consider rinsing with water afterwards. It is also a good idea to drink through a straw to minimize the amount of potential stains that contact your teeth. If you smoke, use the investment into your new smile as motivation to quit. A minor touch-up every so often can help maintain your bright and beautiful smile for years.
Is teeth whitening safe?
Yes, teeth whitening is safe under the care of a dental professional. One of the potential side effects is tooth sensitivity. In the whitening process, peroxide passes through the tooth and binds to particles responsible for stains. Along the way, it may open up channels in the tooth, cause fluid movement, and result in sensitivity. In order to minimize the chances of sensitivity developing, we may recommend brushing with an anti-sensitivity toothpaste daily for 2-3 weeks before whitening.
Does teeth whitening work on existing restorations?
No, whitening gel works on natural teeth and does not work on existing fillings, crowns, veneers, or bridges. Therefore, if you are considering whitening your teeth and completing any restorative work, it is advisable to whiten first. This way, the colors of the composite resins or porcelain restorations will better match your desired tooth color. If you whiten afterwards, the restorations may not blend with the surrounding teeth as well.
Does dental insurance cover teeth whitening?
Since teeth whitening is considered an elective cosmetic procedure, it is usually not covered by most insurance plans.
What is the difference between whitening toothpastes and whitening strips?
Whitening toothpastes often contain abrasives and work to some degree in removing surface stains on teeth during brushing. However, they do not change the internal color of teeth. Whitening strips, on the other hand, are applied and utilize low concentrations of peroxide to internally lighten teeth. While they do work with consistent application, the low concentration of bleaching agent may not be strong enough to meet your desired results. At this point, we can discuss take-home trays or in-office whitening.