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.
Having white teeth has now become the number one aesthetic concern of most patients. Basically, there are two main ways to whiten teeth, one is Take-home whitening system and the other is In-chair whitening system.
Take-home whitening is more common in people who prefer the comfort and privacy of their home to achieve the desired results. In-chair whitening consists of high-strength whitening gels that is activated by a high energy light source under the supervision of your dentist. Since tooth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is important to consider replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc. In-chair whitening involves replacement of any restorations that are being done after bleaching to match with the newly bleached teeth.
In-chair whitening may achieve up to eight shades lighter in a 90-minute treatment session. Tooth whitening is not permanent. A touch up may be needed after a year or so, and more often if you smoke, drink coffee, tea, or wine.
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
In-chair tooth 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. 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.