Teeth whitening done professionally at the dentist’s office is the go-to cosmetic procedure for people who crave a dazzling white smile. In-office whitening is performed using high levels of bleaching gel under safe and controlled conditions.
Certain factors play a part in tooth discoloration, prompting patients to seek this type of treatment. These factors include:
- Aging: the color of our teeth changes over time, becoming a darker shade of yellow.
- Eating habits: certain foods stain our teeth such as caffeinated drinks, wine and fruits such as blueberries and cranberries.
- Smoking: nicotine and tar found in cigarettes also contribute to yellow or brown tooth discoloration which is far from attractive.
In-office teeth whitening involves prepping the patient’s teeth for the procedure. This step includes:
- Examining the mouth for any signs of dental problems such as tooth decay, cracks in the enamel or evidence of gum disease. If any of these conditions is present, the dentist will postpone the procedure until the above dental problems are addressed properly.
- Prophylactic cleaning is a crucial step which rids the teeth of plaque and debris found on the surface and in between the patient’s teeth.
- Teeth may be also photographed in order to compare their shade before and after undergoing the whitening treatment. This step is performed with the help of a dental shade guide.
When it comes to in-office whitening, a standard procedure is followed. This procedure includes:
- Exposing the esthetic zone teeth (teeth that become visible when a person smiles) using a cheek retractor which is placed inside the mouth.
- Coating the gums with a hardened resin or a liquid rubber dam to shield them against any irritation resulting from the bleaching gel.
- The esthetic zone teeth are then bleached using a gel containing hydrogen peroxide. This gel is allowed to do its whitening magic for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Afterwards, the bleaching gel is either washed or suctioned off.
- The gel is then applied a second time for 15 to 30 minutes, This step can be repeated more than once.
- Some whitening treatments include focusing an intense light on the patient’s teeth in order to initiate or boost the effects of the bleaching agent.
- During this process, the teeth are checked in between gel applications to determine whether or not they need more bleaching,
- The cheek retractors are removed once the bleaching step is over.
- The post-treatment shade is then measured. It is important to note that during the whitening process, the teeth undergoing treatment become dehydrated and therefore, their color appears to be whiter than they really are. Therefore, their true color is correctly assessed after a few days.
Post-treatment, caffeinated drinks, wine and smoking are best avoided for the first two hours. This is due to the fact that during the whitening process, the thin protective film (pellicle) covering the surface of the enamel is removed.
Without this protective shield, the teeth are at risk of getting stained again. It takes around two hours for this protective film to naturally reform.
In-office teeth whitening is a thorough, efficient and confidence boosting process. It provides patients with a long lasting smile and can also save them more money in the long run.
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