Teeth whitening is a simple cosmetic procedure that can improve the appearance of your smile by restoring your teeth to their natural whiteness or lighter. At Stonebridge Ranch Dentistry, our patients can choose from laser whitening or at-home whitening kits with custom fitted trays. If you’re considering teeth whitening, we encourage you to learn about the procedures so you’ll know what to expect and you can choose the method that’s right for you.
Candidates for Teeth Whitening
Professional dental whitening is extremely effective at removing stains and discoloration from natural teeth caused by foods, drinks, and tobacco products. Coffee and tobacco are the most commonly known culprits for teeth staining, but tea, berries, wine, sports drinks, and certain sauces all cause significant staining as well. If your teeth have yellowed over the years by consuming some of these products, professional dental whitening should help you get a pearly white smile back.
When Whitening Won’t Work
Teeth whitening will not normally restore discolored teeth caused from damage on the inside of the teeth such as fluorosis, traumatic injuries or medications. Similarly, whitening normally does not work on crowns, bridges, porcelain veneers, bonding or other artificial hardware. It is important to consider this because after bleaching, the color of your teeth may not match your existing dental work and replacing some of it may be necessary in order to achieve your ideal smile.
The Laser Whitening Process
Laser whitening procedures begin with a thorough cleaning and polishing of the teeth. Laser whitening is the quickest option, taking an hour or two to complete, and the results are immediate. Dr. Schuster will carefully protect your eyes, face and gums, leaving only the teeth that will be bleached exposed. She will coat your teeth with a special gel, and then she’ll use a laser beam to active the solution. Oxidation begins to work instantly, whitening your teeth up to five or six shades lighter than before.
Patients should be aware that whitening may result in sensitivity, possibly lasting for several hours after treatment. Dr. Schuster recommends the use of a simple desensitizing procedure to lessen or eliminate post-treatment discomfort. Although this procedure offers incredible immediate results, it is a little more costly than home bleaching kits, and results may not last as long as the at-home method.
The Home Whitening Process
Home whitening kits are a slower acting but longer lasting option. The process begins with an impression taken of your teeth so that our lab technicians can create custom fitted trays. The trays fit snugly so that the bleaching solution is held right next to your teeth, which is one advantage over store-bought whitening kits. The other advantage is that the carbamide peroxide solution you get from us is much stronger than what you can buy at the store.
Depending on the stains, you will wear the trays with the solution every day for differing amounts of time. Some people may need to wear the tray thirty minutes at a time while others will need to wear it overnight. Treatment times range from five to 14 days to reach the desired results, and the kits are less expensive than laser whitening.
Keeping Your Smile Bright
Whitening can last as long as five years with proper care. To keep teeth looking their best, you will occasionally need a touch up. A laser light procedure followed up periodically with a home kit procedure is usually the best solution to maintaining whiter teeth over a long period. Regular brushing, flossing and routine cleanings will extend the life of a cosmetic whitening treatment while keeping teeth healthy and functional.