Professional teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dentistry service that many patients are seeking. Whiter teeth can improve self-esteem, enhance a professional appearance, and help you to look younger and more attractive in general.
Teeth naturally become yellow over time due to aging, tobacco use, coffee, tea and red wine consumption. Over-the-counter and prescription tooth whitening products can help to reduce these stains, but the effect is temporary and often only lasts a few months or less.
There are many different kinds of whitening treatments available, from at-home dental trays to dentist-supervised professional whitening in the office. Which one you choose depends on several factors, including the cause of your staining and how much you want to pay.
Custom Tray Home Use – Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth to create a custom tray that fits securely into your mouth, just like a retainer. This will hold a bleaching solution for a set period of time.
The whitening gel is then placed in the tray and worn for a couple of hours a day, or as directed by your dentist. This method typically yields more comprehensive whitening results than the OTC kits, but it can be time-consuming and requires consistent maintenance to keep your smile looking its best.
In-Office Treatment – Your dentist uses a strong peroxide-based formula to bleach your teeth. This is much more powerful than any over-the-counter whitening product you can purchase, and your dentist will oversee the treatment to make sure it is done safely.
Your dentist may also add laser light activation to the whitening process, which speeds up the whitening process. This can be helpful for people with stains that are difficult to remove with over-the-counter products, such as tea and coffee.
Tooth Color Chart – Your dentist will use a tooth color chart to show you the shade of your teeth before and after treatment. This is important for determining the extent of your results and how many shades you can expect to achieve.
Using the shade chart, your dentist will apply the whitening agent to each tooth. The procedure takes about an hour and is supervised by your dentist.
To protect your gums and cheeks from the whitening agent, your dentist will put a protective barrier on them. This can be made of a light-cured resin material.
Gums are very sensitive to the ingredients used in whitening products, so your dentist will take steps to prevent irritation and discomfort.
You’ll have to wear protective glasses during the whitening process, and the gum barrier will need to be removed after you leave the treatment room. Your teeth will be more sensitive for a few days after the treatment, but this can usually be controlled by taking pain medication as prescribed.
The sensitivity will subside in about 24 hours after the whitening session, but you can keep it at bay by keeping up with regular brushing and flossing.
While a lot of people are concerned about the health risks associated with professional teeth whitening, it is an effective and safe cosmetic dentistry procedure. In addition to making your teeth look whiter, the treatment can help to improve overall oral health. It eliminates stains that cause plaque, tartar and bad breath, as well as helps to keep your teeth clean and healthy.