While there are a variety of approaches people utilize to address tooth discoloration, in-office teeth whitening offered by a dentist is one of the most common methods used to brighten a smile that has become yellow over time. Patients often have many questions about this process, including the effectiveness of the treatment and what to…
Is Teeth Whitening Right for Me?
Teeth whitening treatments are for anyone who wishes to have a whiter set of teeth. The most effective way to get rid of stains and discoloration is a professional whitening treatment performed by a dentist. These treatments are performed using bleaching products that are significantly more concentrated than those found over-the-counter. These prescription-grade whitening products can only be used under the supervision of a dentist.
How teeth whitening works
The active ingredient in most teeth whitening products is hydrogen peroxide or hydrogen carbamide. These bleaching agents are able to penetrate the enamel and get into the inner layers of teeth, oxidizing stains away.
A customized mouth tray is often used for these treatments. The tray is made from an impression of the patient's teeth to ensure a tight fit. It prevents the bleaching product from getting into gum tissues, where it can lead to irritation and inflammation.
The dentist makes an impression of the patient's teeth by having the person bite down on a dental mold. An impression of their teeth is left on the mold, and it is sent to a dental lab where customized whitening trays are made. It takes a couple of weeks for the finished mouth tray to get back to the dentist.
During the teeth whitening treatment, the dentist will evenly apply the whitening product to both sides of the mouth tray and the patient will bite down on it. The patient keeps the tray in the mouth for up to 90 minutes, which is the maximum amount of time that teeth should be exposed to powerful whitening products. The dentist might recommend shorter whitening sessions for patients with sensitive teeth. Potassium nitrate can also be added to the whitening product to help to manage sensitivity.
The dentist will remove the mouth tray and rinse the patient's mouth. Their teeth should be noticeably whiter at this point. Some patients might need additional treatments to reach the desired shade of white. The ideal shade for most people is a few shades lighter than the white of their eyes.
Life after teeth whitening
There is no recovery period after teeth whitening treatments, but some patients might experience increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods/beverages for the first 48 hours after their treatment. This can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers and desensitizing products. It should go away on its own within a week.
It takes about 48 hours for the effects of whitening treatments to set, so patients should avoid doing things that can stain them during this period, like smoking or consuming foods and beverages with strong coloring agents, like coffee and pasta sauce.
Teeth do not stay pearly white forever after whitening treatments. They are constantly bombarded with things that can stain them, so new stains and discoloration will build up on them over time. Maintenance whitening treatments can be used to restore the color of the person's teeth.
We can improve your smile
Ready for a whiter set of teeth? Call or visit our Rohnert Park clinic to set up an appointment.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Teeth Whitening in Rohnert Park, CA.
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