Your wedding is steadily approaching and you need your smile to be the brightest that it can be. Or, maybe you have a pivotal business meeting scheduled soon. Perhaps you just want to enhance your smile by whitening your teeth. While the expense of other procedures may not be in your budget, tooth whitening or bleaching is an inexpensive and highly effective treatment to brighten the color of your teeth and give you an enhanced smile that you can be proud of.
Am I a Candidate for Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dentistry procedures. Generally speaking, the positive effects of teeth whitening from a dentist can last for up to five years, depending on a particular patient’s overall dental hygiene and levels of exposure to tooth discoloration agents. Typical candidates for tooth whitening are patients whose teeth have been darkened from normal wear and tear; stained from coffee, tea, or dark soda; or discolored from cigarette smoking. Teeth that have been discolored to a yellow, brown, or orange shade can—in most cases—be remedied with teeth whitening procedures. We have also achieved exceptional results for patients with stained teeth caused by fluorosis or tetracycline, although the results are not nearly as dramatic.
For patients with hypersensitive teeth, periodontal gum disease, or teeth with eroding enamel, additional treatments may be necessary before they are a good candidate for tooth whitening. White fillings or crowns cannot be whitened during the teeth whitening process, so in some cases, they may need to be replaced to match your enamel’s new lighter color.
How Does In-Office Opalescence® Boost Teeth Whitening Work?
Dr. Jeffrey Schultz, our cosmetic dentist, recommends and offers both in-office and at-home teeth whitening systems. The Opalescence® Boost whitening process can be carried out in our offices during a single treatment, which takes approximately one hour. The Opalescence® Boost whitening gel is the most effective whitening agent available. Plus, it also incorporates fluoride and potassium nitrate, agents that can offer additional cavity protection, deceased sensitivity, and stronger enamel. Unlike Zoom!® teeth whitening, the Opalescence® Boost process does not require the use of UV lights or heat, which can both dehydrate and weaken the tooth structure.
What Can I Expect During At-Home Opalescence® Teeth Whitening Treatment?
For the Opalescence® at-home teeth whitening technique, Dr. Schultz will start your first appointment by taking an impression of the teeth planned for treatment. After you leave the office, the impression will be used to create a model of your teeth and fabricate the whitening tray. Using the model, the thin, clear whitening tray is constructed to fit perfectly over your teeth with a special reservoir included for the whitening agent.
During your second visit, Dr. Schultz will demonstrate how to apply the whitening agent to the reservoir, as well as how to position the tray in your mouth. The whitening agent is a specially-formulated gel containing hydrogen peroxide and an ingredient designed to reduce tooth sensitivity. The whitening agent and tray are worn for thirty minutes, twice a day, for one week, or until the desired degree of whitening is attained. If the teeth begin to discolor over time, use of the at-home bleaching tray for one day or two will usually restore the brilliance achieved with teeth whitening treatment.
Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Teeth Whitening
As many patients have noticed, the outcomes yielded by over-the-counter whitening solutions and professional treatments often differ because the products found in stores typically lack the bleaching agents necessary to dramatically improve discoloration. While whitening strips, toothpastes, and rinses can clean the surface of the teeth and produce a subtle lightening of your tooth shade, they commonly do not reach the inner layers of the enamel where years of staining often penetrate. Furthermore, according to the American Dental Association, natural bleaching options—such as charcoal teeth whitening and coconut oil teeth whitening—are not currently supported by evidence suggesting that they can safely and effectively whiten teeth. In fact, activated charcoal can be very abrasive and strip the teeth of its natural enamel, potentially causing problems in the future that may require extra dental work.
If you are not satisfied with the results achieved by over-the-counter whitening products, professional-grade teeth whitening can be a simple and powerful way to lighten the color of your enamel by multiple shades in one session. Containing an effective concentration of bleaching agents that are designed to be gentle on the soft tissues of the mouth, the Opalescence® whitening system can produce noticeable results that are immediately apparent. Additionally, our professional whitening treatment utilizes custom-designed trays, allowing your teeth to make intimate contact with the bleaching gel for more effective results when compared to whitening products sold in stores. Our in-office and at-home whitening options are also tailored to your personal convenience and sensitivity levels for a gleaming smile that can be attained quickly and comfortably.
How is Tooth Sensitivity Managed During Teeth Whitening?
Tooth sensitivity can be a relatively common side effect of teeth whitening for some patients. While it will usually subside on its own, there are a number of ways in which you can manage your sensitivity during and after teeth whitening. Always be sure to communicate your sensitivity levels to Dr. Schultz so he can adjust the concentration of the bleaching gel accordingly, and take the appropriate measures to maximize your comfort during treatment.
If you are experiencing sensitivity after teeth whitening, the following tips can help you manage discomfort:
- Decrease the amount of whitening gel used
- Cut down how often you whiten your teeth (i.e. undergoing at-home whitening every other day, rather than every day)
- Reduce the amount of time you wear your whitening trays
- Use rinses or toothpastes designed to combat tooth sensitivity, such as Opalescence® Sensitivity Relief Whitening Toothpaste or Sensodyne® toothpaste
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
How Long Do Teeth Whitening Results Last?
Once the desired tooth shade is reached, the results of professional teeth whitening can last between one and five years, depending on a patient’s lifestyle and how often their teeth are exposed to staining agents. Eventually, as the enamel continues to make contact with coffee, wine, and other products that can cause discoloration, touch-up treatments may be necessary to preserve the initial outcome of teeth whitening.
To learn more about teeth whitening, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Schultz, please don’t hesitate to contact our practice today.