Tooth Whitening, often called bleaching, is a process where a peroxide base gel is applied to the surface of the tooth to lighten the shade of the teeth. In our office, we utilize a custom at-home whitening process. Impressions of the teeth are made and trays are fabricated to custom fit the patient's dental arch. The patient will then place the peroxide gel in the trays and wear the trays for 1-2 hours in the evening or overnight.
Whitening is safe for the teeth generally after age 16 and does not harm the enamel. Diagnosing the type of staining present is the key for a successful outcome. Many teeth are stained from the inside out and are not great candidates for whitening. Staining on the surface generally is the ideal case to whiten teeth. Tooth colored dental restorations such as porcelain or composite fillings, will not whiten.
Tooth whitening at home generally takes 5-7 applications to obtain the desired results. The main reasons why at-home bleaching is utilized in our office instead of in-office whitening is to minimize cost and the patient can be in control of how light they want their teeth to become. Another advantage is that "touchup" bleaching can be done every 6-12 months, generally 1-2 nights, to maintain the desired brightness.