Teeth Whitening- What Are The Options?

April 27, 2022

With the advent of new treatments, a better smile is now within reach of more people. One of the most popular cosmetic procedures is bleaching. Causes of discoloration include staining from coffee or tobacco, an injury that has damaged the pulp, ingestion of the antibiotic tetracycline or high fluoride levels while the teeth are developing, corrosion from silver fillings, and the natural wearing away of the enamel with age. Although many stains can be successfully removed with a bleaching technique, bleaching may be uncomfortable for people with sensitive teeth or an exposed root. Additionally, bleaching addresses external stains only. Internal bleaching for injured teeth is much more involved and includes a root canal as part of the treatment.

Chair-side bleaching

We etch your teeth with an acid solution and then apply an oxidizing agent to the enamel. Your teeth are exposed to bright light or a laser to hasten the lightening. It usually takes three to four sessions, each lasting about 30–60 minutes, to achieve the color you want. Typical results are dramatic and can lighten teeth 3-4 shades. Bleaching is temporary, as you will continue to consume foods like blueberries and drink coffee and wine, etc. Your teeth will darken again within one to three years, and you may need to repeat the procedure, as touch-up syringes are available for minimal cost that can be used with the mouthpiece trays that are made for the in-office bleaching procedure.

Home bleaching (dentist prescribed)

Your dentist will make a custom-fitted mouthpiece to hold the bleaching chemicals (carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide). You then perform the bleaching at home by spreading the whitening gel into the mouthpiece and putting it on for the recommended period (between 30 minutes and several hours) each day for a week or two or overnight.

Opalescence Trays

This is the least expensive option and can only be purchased from a dental professional. The trays are to be worn for 10 days for 15 minutes daily. The trays are universal and have potassium nitrate and fluoride in them, making this the BEST options for our patients with a lot of sensitivity.