Creating Great Smiles

Tooth Whitening

Types of tooth whitening methods

To get whiter teeth there are many products. You can either go to the dentist or you can choose an over-the-counter tooth whitening kit. The dentist either uses power bleaching that can whiten your teeth in about 1 – 2 hours, or customize a clear tray to fit on your teeth. This minimizes the potential for the whitening chemicals to get on your gums and cause irritation.

The over-the-counter products come in a variety of methods. There are toothpastes with whitening formulas, whitening strips, and paint-on techniques.

In office whitening

This procedure is performed by the dentist. It is called power bleaching the most popular method available is ZOOM. You get whiter teeth within an hour or two. Since only dentist and hygienists can do it, it’s considered one of the safest methods. However there are reports that about 10% of persons experience discomfort for a few days after procedure. Cost approx: $750.

Toothpaste whitener

Some toothpastes come with whitening power. A few of the more popular ones are Crest Extra whitening (approx. $4) and Colgate total plus whitening (approx. $4). The results have shown some whitening, although no dramatic results like in office or take home kits.

Whitening strips

There are a few whitening strips in the market, with the most popular being Crest whitestrips Premium (approx. $40). You can expect optimal results in about 4 months. Some of the concerns with the strips are that they are not properly fitted to your teeth and can cause burning of the gums and ingestion of the product.

Whitening wand or pen

These are easy to use as they only require 1 – 2 minutes to apply. However, the results are not dramatic like the other methods and ingestion is probable.

Frequently asked Questions

How does it work?

For take-home whitening, a gel is placed in a thin bleaching tray that is custom-fitted over your teeth. As the active ingredient in the gel, carbamide or hydrogen peroxide is broken down; oxygen enters the enamel and dentin and bleaches the darkened surface. Results are seen within a couple of days and treatment is completed after 10 to 14 days.

For ZOOM, the procedure is done at our office over the course of about two hours from start to finish. We use a stronger whitening agent so we isolate the teeth to be whitened to protect the gums. Then we paint the gel on the teeth and activate it with a special light. This is repeated twice more.

How long do the results last?

The teeth will always be lighter than they were. However, some people need periodic touch up for 1 or 2 days every year or two, especially if they continue to use staining substances like tobacco, coffee, tea and red wines.

Are there any side effects?

Some people experience temporary tooth sensitivity to cold during treatment. These symptoms usually disappear within 1-3 weeks after completion and there are products to minimize this.

What causes tooth discoloration?

The most common include aging, consumption of staining substances like (coffee, tea, colas, wines, and tobacco), nerve degeneration, and old restorations. During tooth formation, consumption of tetracycline or excessive fluoride may also cause tooth discoloration.

How they work

Whitening products use a form of hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from tooth enamel. This occurs when the hydrogen and oxygen in the peroxide react with water to give off oxygen gas, which bubbles the stain out of the microscopic pores in the tooth.