Cosmetic dentistry is, as the name implies, a group of procedures designed to improve the look of your smile. As with all procedures, there are benefits and risks, and it is important to discuss each procedure, cost, and maintenance with our staff. You are responsible for consulting your insurance company regarding coverage of cosmetic procedures.
There are several over-the-counter dental tooth whitening products available for people with mild staining on their teeth. Darker stains or faster results are obtained by having an in-office whitening procedure by your dentist. The reason for this is the strength of the whitening or bleaching agent. Your dentist has access to products that are much stronger than the at-home kits, strips, rinses, or toothpastes. Our offices use several products, including Zoom! Chair side Whitening.
In the office, whitening products are applied to teeth, usually after a cleaning. A device is used to hold the cheeks away from the teeth to minimize contact of the bleaching product to the sensitive tissue. A protective coating is painted onto the gums to protect them from irritation. The bleaching gel is then applied and accelerated by the use of heat, special lights, or lasers. The gel is generally left on for 15 – 30 minutes and then is suctioned or washed off. Depending upon the extent of the staining, more than one treatment may be necessary to achieve the desired results. Even on severe staining, dramatic results may be seen after the first in-office bleaching treatment.
After the final application, the protective devices are removed from the cheeks and the patient is allowed to rinse. At this time, the patient will be able to view the results and determine whether they are at the optimal shade.
Sometimes, if the level of whitening is unsatisfactory, the dentist will provide in-home treatments for the patient to use between visits, or an appointment for another in-office whitening session to continue the whitening process.
Teeth whitening may need to be repeated if the patient continues to expose the teeth to staining beverages, foods, or cigarette smoke. The type of treatment will also affect the duration of the results.
Results will vary, so the patient should discuss the desired degree of whiteness with the dentist. A realistic expectation is not a blinding white, but rather a natural white.