Click on a topic to learn more about it
At-Home Tooth Whitening
In addition to the In-Office Whitening, you will also be provided with a complete At-Home Whitening system which includes custom bleach/whitening trays, whitening material, and instructions for specific applications.
After impressions are made, custom bleach trays will be processed and will be ready for you usually while you wait. We will provide you with a whitening material specific for your dental condition that you put into the clear, almost invisible trays. Typically the bleach trays will be worn for approximately 2 hours per session, and noticeable changes will be apparent after the first application without altering the primary tooth structure or existing dental work in any way. When your teeth reach the brightness you want, only occasional treatment is needed to maintain your new smile.
Dental whitening can be used to correct many tooth discolorations. These discolorations may have been caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Using the latest in whitening technology, we can offer a safe method for creating a beautiful, “brilliant” smile.
Key Benefits of Tooth Whitening
Tooth Whitening Considerations
Over-the-counter whitening agents are available at drug stores and pharmacies. However, since these products can harm the gums and teeth, it’s better to use products that our practice recommends.
What is tooth whitening?
Whitening or bleaching is a process using a concentrated percentage of hydrogen peroxide, or its derivative carbamide peroxide, that is suspended in a gel that lightens discolored enamel.
How is tooth whitening done?
An impression is taken to make specialized splints/trays to hold the bleach against the teeth. The material is used each night for about 2 hours, while the number of applications is based on how white the patient wants their teeth. The customary amount of times a patient uses the splints/trays is approximately 6-10 applications, after which significant whitening will occur. In some cases, the change is nothing short of brilliant. For confidence in appearance, whitening technology offers improvements in yellowing, aging, or stained teeth; for very severely stained teeth, crowns or veneers may be more appropriate.
What can cause tooth discoloration?
There are many causes. The most common include aging and consumption of staining substances such as coffee, tea, or tobacco. During tooth formation, consumption of tetracycline, certain antibiotics, or excessive fluoride may also cause tooth discoloration. Some existing developmental and environmental conditions may be incapable of becoming whiter or lighter; therefore, prior to any whitening procedure, a thorough examination will be performed to determine the proper course of treatment.
Should I have my teeth cleaned prior to whitening?
Yes! This is highly recommended. By removing any existing stains, plaque, and calculus from the teeth, the whitening material is significantly more effective. In some instances, the bacterial colonization attached to the teeth may actually neutralize the whitening gel, causing it to be completely ineffective.
Who may benefit from tooth whitening?
Just about anyone can benefit from tooth whitening. However, treatment may not be as effective for some as it is for others. Upon an oral exam, our office can determine if you are a candidate for this procedure.
Is tooth whitening safe?
Yes, research and clinical studies indicate that whitening teeth under the supervision of a dentist is safe. In fact, most dentists consider whitening the safest cosmetic dental procedure available. As with any tooth whitening product, it is not recommended for children under 13 years of age and pregnant or lactating women.
Do the results last a long time?
By following some simple post whitening care instructions, your teeth will be lighter than they were before. We recommend flossing, brushing, and rinsing at least twice daily. Occasionally, a touch-up using the At-Home system may be needed, and by all accounts, most patients only touch-up 1-3 times a year. These are professional formula products designed specifically to keep your teeth their brightest. They are available through our office.
Is there a difference between over-the-counter whiteners and professional whiteners?
Yes! Consulting our office is always the first step to whitening your teeth safely. Over-the-counter tooth whitening strips, brush-on gels, and toothpaste take weeks or months to whiten your teeth; just a few shades and some frankly don’t work at all. Most likely, someone using what is available over-the-counter will become discouraged because they did not get the results they wanted and/or spent too much money on something that didn’t work. Furthermore, most, if not all, of the products available over-the-counter cannot produce a tray/splint that adequately adheres to the teeth and, more importantly, protects the gums. Certain damage, sometimes irreversible and painful, can occur, so be careful.
Are there any side effects?
Most patients report little to no sensitivity, yet some patients experience temporary increased tooth sensitivity. These symptoms disappear within 1-3 days after interruption or completion of the treatment. Basic over-the-counter analgesics such as Tylenol, Advil, or Motrin can be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Patients are encouraged to contact our office if there are any questions or concerns.
How long is the In-Office procedure?
The entire in-office time is approximately 90 minutes. The procedure begins with a preparation period followed by one hour of whitening.
How long is the At-Home procedure?
The entire office time is about 15 minutes. We then need about 30 minutes to make a patient's custom trays/splints. If a patient can’t wait, we will be happy to send the system to the patient's mailing address or a patient can stop by the office anytime. The take-home gel is designed to be worn for a minimum of two (2) hours per application. Our office will advise you on how long you should wear each application. The number of overall applications is dependent on the patient’s personal idea of what shade looks great.
How is the Take-Home System different from the In-Office System?
The main difference between the two systems is that you use the At-Home system in the convenience of your own home over a series of applications. The In-Office system is performed entirely in the office along with the added benefit of the complete At-Home system utilized for touch-ups.
You will want to take an active role in planning your smile design. Dr. Kao will review the benefits and limitations of this procedure and help you plan your new smile.
We hope that your new veneers fulfill your aesthetic goal. With proper home care and scheduled hygiene visits, they are sure to provide you with a beautiful smile for years to come.