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Whitening or Bleaching

There are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of your smile, if you elect to do so. Many people are satisfied with the improvement they get from daily oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings, but if you decide you would like to go beyond this, there are multiple whitening options.   

  • In-office whitening. This procedure is called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. A protective gel is applied to your gums to protect the oral soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth for 30 minutes and then thoroughly removed.  This material actually bleaches the tooth structure.
  • At-home whitening. Peroxide-containing whiteners also bleach the tooth enamel. They typically come in a gel and are placed in a mouthguard. Usage regimens vary.
  • Whitening toothpastes. All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. "Whitening" toothpastes in the ADA Seal of Acceptance program have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface.

Whitening products may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow-ish hued teeth will probably bleach well, brownish-colored teeth may bleach less well, and grayish-hued teeth may not bleach well at all. If you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in your front teeth the bonding or filling material will not change shade with application of the bleaching material.  There are potential side effects with some whitening products, such as increased sensitivity or gum irritation.