Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures today. Whiter, brighter teeth can make a dramatic change to your smile and improve your self-confidence. You can choose from many whitening products and toothpastes to use at home, but the best whitening results can only be found at a dentist’s office. Professional teeth whitening is superior to at-home products because dentists can use stronger whitening agents. Professional whitening is safer because care is taken to protect your gums before the whitening agent is applied to your teeth. With professional whitening, you can see results in just one appointment.
There are several different brands of teeth whitening products available to dentists. Their ingredients vary, and some brands are known for being more gentle, some are faster than others and some are stronger or have a higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide or another whitening agent. Nearly all of these products are gels that the dentists applies directly to the teeth.
The length of time the product is left on the teeth varies by brand and by the level of whiteness you wish to achieve. Depending on the brand and type of whitener, the gel may be washed off after about 15 minutes and then reapplied. The dentist will check the color of your teeth between applications to determine if more applications are necessary. In one visit, results are usually satisfactory after two applications and about an hour to 90 minutes in the dentist’s chair.
With many brands of whiteners, the process can be speeded up by the use of a light to cure or harden the whitener. This is sometimes referred to as laser whitening, and it is the fastest type of professional whitening available.
Whitening in a dentist’s office can be repeated at future office visits if you want to achieve an even whiter smile. A dentist can also provide at-home professional whitening trays so you can follow up the first whitening treatment at home. This works by having an impression of your teeth taken and a custom whitening tray made for you.
Professional teeth whitening can whiten teeth that have been stained by coffee, tea, tobacco, wine or other foods or beverages, and even teeth that have yellowed with age. Stains that are caused by genetics or something inside the tooth usually cannot be removed with whitening. Before a whitening procedure, the dentist will evaluate your teeth and let you know if whitening would be effective for you.