Please find here answers to some of the more common questions patients ask about our teeth whitening services. Of course, I’m happy to discuss your particular questions and dental needs at your convenience – just call the office at 212-777-8160, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer in office and at home whitening treatments.
What is tooth whitening?
Tooth whitening is a bleaching process that lightens discoloration and removes stains from the enamel and dentin of the teeth.
I offer two types of whitening: One is an in-office procedure, that takes a little over an hour. The other procedure I use employs an effective, powerful, yet mild solution retained in a custom tray that is worn over your teeth generally for an hour a day.
Neither bleaching procedure is known to harm the teeth or gums, and significant whitening can be achieved in the majority of cases.
Why can only a dentist get my teeth their whitest?
The powerful whitening solutions can only be prescribed by a dentist.
Prior to beginning treatment, I will examine your teeth and gums to determine whether you have any untreated cavities, tooth decay, or unhealthy teeth or any other contra-indications for tooth whitening. Then, depending on which procedure you choose, I will either take an impression of your teeth to make a custom-fitted trays, or begin the in-office procedure at your convenience.
What causes tooth discoloration?
There are many causes. The most common include aging, consumption of staining substances (coffee, teas, colas, tobacco), trauma, tetracycline (antibiotic) staining, excessive fluoride, and nerve degeneration
Who may benefit from tooth whitening?
Almost anyone. However there are some cases where the treatment may not be effective. Through a thorough oral examination, I can determine whether you are a viable candidate for this process.
Tooth-lightening is most ideal for patients who have healthy, unrestored teeth and would like to have a whiter, brighter smile. People with yellow, or yellow-brown teeth tend to bleach best.
Multi-colored teeth, especially if stained due to tetracycline, do not bleach easily. In addition, fillings, bonding, veneers and crowns do not bleach, and may need to be changed to match the lighter teeth once the bleaching is completed.
Do I need a cleaning prior to whitening?
Yes, a professional cleaning should be done just prior to the whitening process.
If necessary, I will remove extrinsic stains, and calculus (tartar) deposits that could hinder the process. Also, a professional cleaning will remove any irritants that may lead to gum sensitivity during the process.
After the cleaning, it will be your responsibility to maintain excellent oral hygiene, including daily flossing, to give the teeth and gums a chance to be their healthiest.
How long will tooth whitening take?
If you choose the in-office procedure, it will take a little over an hour.
If you prefer the take home trays, generally 10 days of twice daily wear is sufficient.
How white will my teeth get?
As everyone presents with different circumstances, this is a difficult question to answer. There are many factors involved, including, the cause, darkness and color of the stain, and your compliance with the process. In my office I can show you some examples of what you might expect.
Also, I should note that occasionally some teeth don’t whiten evenly; this is because the biting edges and the sides of the teeth whiten more quickly than the rest of the teeth. This occurs because your enamel is thinner in these areas and may respond better to the whitening process.
Is the teeth whitening process safe?
Research and clinical studies indicate that whitening teeth with carbamide peroxide and/or hydrogen peroxide under the supervision of a dentist is safe for teeth and gums. In fact, many dentists consider this whitening process the safest cosmetic procedure available today.
What are potential problems?
During the first 24 hours following bleaching, some patients experience sensitivity, which is mild if the teeth were not normally sensitive. If your teeth are normally sensitive, the bleaching may make them more sensitive, and it may be necessary to discontinue the process until desensitizing procedures are completed. If you experience some tooth sensitivity after bleaching, a mild analgesic, (Tylenol or Advil) will be effective until the sensitivity subsides. The incidence of sensitivity is very low, and even lower if you choose the in-office procedure.
If you choose the in-office procedure, your gums are protected and unaffected. If you choose the take-home procedure, then bleaching may cause temporary inflammation of your gums. This will subside in a few days. In most cases it is prevented by a thorough cleaning prior to the whitening process. Sometimes it can be resolved by adjusting the tray slightly – I will do this for you. There is rarely any gum irritation with the in-office Zoom! procedure, because I use a special material to protect your gums during the visit.
If you have any cavities, the bleach could get into the tooth and cause some pain and or damage. Cavities and defective restorations (fillings) will need to be replaced prior to whitening.