What is involved during in-office teeth whitening?
Most people are aware that in-office teeth whitening is far superior to the over-the-counter or shopping channel products that claim to be able to whiten your teeth. Performed by a professional, in-office whitening uses the highest grade of bleach approved for whitening. Application by your dentist also means that the spread of whitening agent is more consistent and less likely to get onto your gums and mouth – something which can cause soreness and irritation. As such, the results of in-office whitening are substantially better than those offered by other products.
Your in-office teeth whitening experience may still take place over several appointments after your initial consultation. Exactly how many whitening sessions you will need will depend on several factors including:
The initial color of your teeth
The shade of white that you wish to achieve
How well your teeth respond to the whitening process
For this reason, it may be necessary to adjust the number of procedures you are scheduled for as your treatment plan progresses.
What can I expect to happen during my in-office teeth whitening experience?
The teeth whitening experience takes place in several different steps. Firstly, your dentist will perform a thorough clean of your teeth. This is important both from a hygiene point of view and to ensure that you obtain the most consistent results from your treatment. Should your teeth not be properly clean, areas where there is microscopic debris and an accumulation of plaque/tartar may achieve a different color to the other areas that are whitened, leading to a patchy result.
After your teeth have been cleaned, your dentist will determine what color your smile is at the start of your treatment. This will be done using a range of tooth-colored porcelain veneers which will be held against your teeth so that your densist can determine the best match. After this, you will be able to look at a dental shade guide to determine which color you would like to achieve for the final result of your teeth whitening process.
Isolating your teeth from the gums
Next, your teeth will be isolated from the soft tissue of the gums so that the whitening solution, which is caustic in nature, cannot cause soreness and irritation to this delicate soft tissue. This isolation involves placing something known as a liquid dental dam or seal around the teeth. This is pasted on and hardened using a special light and can be removed simply by peeling it off after your procedure. Some dentists still prefer to use a rubber dental dam which is a thin sheet of latex placed over the gums, with the teeth protruding through so that they can be accessed for treatment.
Application of the whitening agent
Once the dental dam is in place, your dentist will begin the whitening process by pasting the bleaching agent on to your teeth. This will be done one tooth at a time to ensure that coverage is even. If your whitening agent requires light activation to enhance the bleaching process, this light will then be placed over your teeth for the allotted time. In-office teeth whitening times vary, and while the appointment usually takes less than 90 minutes in its entirety, the bleaching part of your session may be divided into short cycles between which more whitening agent is applied.
The end of the session
After the whitening session concludes, the bleaching agent will be washed off of your teeth to ensure no residue is left behind. Your dental dam will be removed, and your dentist will undertake another shade evaluation to see how much improvement has been achieved. It is important to remember than your teeth will initially be dehydrated – a side effect of the bleaching process. As such, another evaluation of the shade of your teeth will need to be carried out around a week later since your teeth will darken a little as they rehydrate.
If you have further questions about what is involved during in-office teeth whitening, or if you would like to book a consultation with our cosmetic dentistry team to discuss your candidacy for a teeth whitening procedure, please get in touch with our office in Shavertown, PA.