Professional, in-office teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in today’s world. Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps remove stains and discoloration. Unlike home-used systems that incorporate low-dose bleaching agents, in-office whitening takes place under carefully monitored conditions which allow for safe, controlled, pain-free use of relatively high concentration of bleaching gel – yielding results that are visible immediately. Whitening is not a one-time procedure and will need repeated from time to time.
Advantages of Teeth Whitening:
- Produces fastest results
- Safest form of bleaching
- Gum and tooth sensitivity are more comfortable today due to thicker peroxide gels and use of potassium nitrate and fluoride
- More expensive than take-home alternatives
- Results can be unpredictable, depending on factors such as age, heredity and type of straining that is present
- In-office bleaching is not a permanent solution. Shortly after treatment is completed, the teeth resume accumulating stains. Many dentists recommend home maintenance follow-up with lower percentage bleach.
During the teeth whitening preparation, your teeth will likely be given a prophylactic cleaning to clear away plaque and debris that have collected on the surface and between teeth.
A dental exam will be performed to check for potential problem such as decay, cracks and gum disease. Photos may be taken of your teeth and their color measured to a shade guide. The procedure is not painful or uncomfortable.
The whitening procedure normally is as follows:
- A cheek retractor is inserted into the mouth exposing the teeth that are visible when you smile
- A liquid rubber dam or hardening resin is painted onto the gum tissue to protect against any irritation caused by the bleaching gel
- A bleaching gel containing hydrogen peroxide is applied to the esthetic (visible) zone and kept on for approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
- The bleaching gel is suctioned or washed off and fresh gel is applied for one or more additional periods of 15-30 minutes.
- Some whitening treatments incorporate an intense light that is focused on the teeth and is said to activate or enhance the bleaching process.
- Between gel applications, teeth are check to see how well they have whitened, and whether more bleach needs to be applied.
- After the final gel application, the cheek retractors are moved, the patient rinses and immediate post-treatment shade change is measured. The teeth may be whitened by several shade treatments.
If a satisfactory level of whitening hasn’t been achieved, your dentist may recommend a follow-up-in-office bleaching at a future date, and/or regimen of take-home bleaching trays.