Teeth Whitening Tips

Lon R. Kessler, DMD

Avoid any whitening procedure without supervision by your dentist for several reasons:

  • Not everyone is a candidate for bleaching and must be evaluated first by a dentist. One reason to check with your dentist is to ensure that you will not be sensitive to the procedure. It may be necessary to replace some older fillings with new fillings prior to the procedure to avoid sensitivity. Also, because porcelain and tooth-colored fillings tend not to bleach, you may want to replace them after bleaching in order to improve aesthetics.
  • Not all over-the-counter bleaching solutions are pH-balanced. Some may cause irritation of the gums.
  • Bleaching can sometimes lead to sensitive teeth, which your dentist can help by changing the concentration of the solutions or administering fluoride.
  • It is important to have a custom-fitted mouth guard so that the bleaching gel remains on your teeth rather than on your gums.

The combination in-office/take-home whitening procedure

Models are taken of your mouth and a custom-fitted mouth guard is made for you. I instruct my patients to wear the mouth guard for a period of two weeks, for four hours each day, or they may wear it overnight. Results vary depending upon the original color and shade of your teeth (i.e., some teeth are naturally yellow, reddish-brown, or gray.) I have never encountered a patient who did not benefit from the whitening process.

In-office whitening

As a matter of convenience, many of my patients choose in-office whitening. Through this procedure a special external light source, or laser, is used to activate the bleaching gel solution. The process is safe, easy, and fast. Results are accomplished in just one appointment. Sometimes it may be necessary to use a combination of in-office and at home bleaching in order to achieve the patient's desired results.

Whitening toothpastes

Although whitening toothpastes may remove stains, I only recommend them for maintenance after the bleaching process has been completed.

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