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"I just had my teeth whitened and I feel like a million $$$...I appreciate how you explained the process step by step to me."
Deborah L., Amherst
Why are my teeth discolored?
Many things we do on a regular basis can contribute to stained teeth. For example:
- Using tobacco: cigarettes or smokeless tobacco
- Drinking beverages like coffee, tea, cola and red wine
- Eating highly-colored fruits, like blueberries
- Taking certain medications
Mostly, it's just our natural aging process that will cause our teeth to darken over time
How does tooth whitening work?
Tooth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment to whiten and brighten your natural tooth enamel, making it an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Whitening gels use hydrogen and Carbamide peroxide as the active ingredients. They break down into oxygen molecules that work into your tooth enamel and dentin to break up stains. This allows more light to flow through your teeth making them look lighter.
Often tooth whitening is the first step for our patients having crowns or fillings on their front teeth or requesting a smile makeover.
Does whitening work for everyone?
Tooth whitening is best for people with otherwise healthy teeth (we're cautious when it comes to teeth with enamel loss, lots of cosmetic bonding, or large amalgam restorations). Since the whitening solution only works on natural tooth enamel, before you start your tooth whitening treatment we will evaluate whether any old fillings or crowns will need to be replaced after bleaching is complete so that they match the newly whitened teeth.
Antibiotic staining - from tetracycline, for example - is a bit harder to treat with simple bleaching. For this reason, we'll take a medical and dental history at your appointment. It’s always best to begin with the cleanest teeth possible (free of tartar and plaque), so we may recommend a professional cleaning beforehand.
It’s your choice: One-hour whitening or take-home
We offer several great options for achieving a whiter smile:
- One-hour whitening: High-powered light-activated whitening gel is painted on each tooth individually. Your teeth can whiten several shades and application can be repeated until the desired shade is obtained. A single session will complete your full mouth.
- Take-home whitening: Use custom-made trays at home to apply whitening gels for full mouth treatment. This involves two office visits: a first visit of 15-20 minutes to take an impression for the trays; a second quick visit to deliver the trays and gel. Whiten teeth at home for just 3 minutes a day for two weeks, or until you reach your desired shade. Gel refills are available at an additional cost for touch-ups as needed.
At New Hampshire Center for Comprehensive Dentistry, you choose the tooth whitening method that best fits your lifestyle. We offer above options as treatment combinations, so you can mix and match according to your needs. Results can be impressive with each of our tooth whitening options but can vary greatly from individual to individual. Each person has their own unique level of bleaching potential. No guarantee is made as to individual results.
Should I be concerned about sensitivity?
Some patients experience heightened sensitivity during tooth whitening treatment, particularly if pulp chambers within the tooth are especially large and close to the enamel surface. Most tooth sensitivity can be decreased with use of a desensitizing toothpaste (such as Sensodyne) and occasional Ibuprofen as needed. At NHCCD we use whitening products that reduce the possibility of tooth sensitivity.
How long does tooth whitening treatment last?
Tooth whitening is not permanent and a minor tooth whitening touch-up may be needed every few years (or if you have a special event coming up). Remember that coffee, tea, red wine, certain foods and smoking can all discolor your teeth again. With our whitening refill kits and your custom whitening trays you can whiten your smile whenever you want.
Using power toothbrushes (Sonicare is a model we recommend) and toothpastes that have whitening effects can help teeth resist staining. As always, proper oral hygiene, good eating habits and regular dental visits are recommended following your tooth-whitening procedure.
What about those whitening strips?
Whitening strips are an option for some to consider. Here are some comparisons between strips and take-home trays with professional gel:
- May be more convenient than tray systems
- May be better tolerated if gag reflex is a problem
- Whiten only the front teeth
- May not be as effective as tray systems
- Can be difficult to apply and keep in place
- Takes longer to achieve the same effect as trays
How can I find out more?
All teeth whitening treatments, including white-strips, should begin with a thorough evaluation by your dentist. Your dentist will determine if whitening is a safe and realistic option for you and your individual situation. Feel free to call or email us with any questions about tooth whitening or to schedule a smile consultation with one of our dentists.
- Our dentists are experts with years of experience in tooth whitening.
- Your dentist will help you choose the method that is best for you and will provide after-care instructions to help you maintain your bright white smile.
- Our administrative staff will also be available to discuss financial options that will help you fit tooth whitening and cosmetic dentist treatment into your budget.