How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Do you have a special event coming up or want to improve the appearance of tooth stains? Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental treatment that can lighten the shade of your teeth by up to 10 shades. It can be performed in the dental office or by yourself at home. To find out more about each of these treatments and how they compare to each other, read on in this blog from Coronado Family Dental.

Teeth Whitening Options 

Teeth whitening is available as an in-office procedure performed by a dentist in the dental chair over one or multiple appointments or through take-home whitening trays. We recommend in-office whitening for patients who are preparing for upcoming special events and take-home whitening kits for those with a little extra time or who would rather whiten their teeth in the comfort of their own home.

Both whitening treatments are highly effective, but take-home whitening trays must be worn for a certain amount of time for a few weeks and the whitening effect is gradually built up. In comparison, in-office whitening is usually done within an hour-long appointment and the bleaching agent is activated by UV light which allows for significant whitening of the teeth by up to 10 shades in a single session.

In-Office Teeth Whitening Procedure 

The in-office teeth whitening begins with a consultation, where we will assess your oral health before determining if whitening is suitable for you. If you have a buildup of dental plaque, this needs to be removed through a dental cleaning before you can have your teeth whitened. You should also discuss tooth sensitivity with Dr. Becky Chiem because hypersensitive teeth may be better suited for take-home trays.

On the day of your whitening treatment, we will take a shade measurement of your teeth and consult with a shade guide to track your whitening progress. We will insert a cheek retractor into your mouth to keep your mouth open and apply a protective gel to every surface of the gums to protect them from the bleaching agent. 

A bleaching agent containing powerful peroxides will be applied to your teeth and activated through a UV light. This process takes about an hour before the peroxide can be rinsed off. In-office whitening is the most effective whitening treatment and may only take one session for dramatic results. However, if you have severe discoloration, you may need multiple whitening sessions to achieve your desired results.

Take-Home Teeth Whitening Procedure

The prep work for your teeth whitening is the same as in-office whitening - you will need to have an oral exam and may require a dental cleaning if your teeth have any buildup that can prevent the bleaching agent from penetrating the teeth.

Take-home whitening will require two dental visits. The first appointment is where we will take impressions of your teeth to create a custom-fit whitening tray that fits onto your teeth perfectly. These impressions will be sent to a dental lab that will create your trays for you. 

Once your whitening trays are ready, you will return to Coronado Family Dental to pick them up along with your teeth whitener and instructions. Dr. Becky Chiem will discuss what to expect and how to use the product but you can also refer to the written instructions throughout the process. 

Carefully follow instructions relating to how much whitening product to use, how often it is applied, and how long you leave it on. Failing to follow these directions can result in tooth sensitivity and damage to your tooth’s dentin layer.

What To Avoid To Keep Your Teeth White For As Long As Possible & Other Tips

Teeth whitening treatments are only temporary and can last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. While there are aftercare tips to follow that can increase the longevity of your whitened teeth, the best way to keep your teeth looking white is to return for touch-ups. It is common to experience tooth sensitivity after having your teeth whitened so you may want to use a desensitizing gel and toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

You should avoid foods, drinks, and activities that cause tooth stains or worsen tooth sensitivity, such as:

  • Smoking or using tobacco
  • Drinking wine, coffee, soda, tea, or juice
  • Highly pigmented foods
  • Acidic foods or drinks
  • Very hot or cold foods/drinks

Teeth Whitening at Coronado Family Dental

Whether you’re interested in take-home or in-office teeth whitening, the best way to decide is to come in for a consultation so we can examine your teeth and determine what shade you’re starting with. Contact us at Coronado Family Dental to schedule an appointment with Dr. Becky Chiem today.