Teeth Whitening

We all want to have a bright, dazzling smile. But some of our favorite foods and beverages work against our smiles. That morning cup o’ joe, the glass of cabernet with dinner, raspberries and blackberries for dessert — lots of foods and drinks conspire to stain the enamel of our teeth. Even the passing years tend to make our teeth yellow and dingy.But we can put the dazzle back in your smile at Gentle Dentistry. We offer both lightning fast in-office whitening, along with custom at-home whitening, both of which will make your teeth many shades whiter and give you a smile you’ll be happy to show off.
No two people have exactly the same shade of tooth enamel. Plus, the porosity of enamel can vary between people, making some teeth more prone to staining. Most staining occurs on the enamel layer of the teeth and responds well to whitening agents. Some stains, however, are in the inner part of the tooth, the dentin. These stains can result from tooth trauma or a reaction to medications such as tetracycline. This type of staining improves slightly with whitening, but not dramatically. In these cases, porcelain veneers or dental bonding can cover the deep staining.

Why do my teeth become stained?

Here are the reasons your teeth are stained:

  • Food — Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, even dark chocolate all have natural pigments in them that stain your teeth.
  • Drink — Coffee, tea, red wine, cranberry and other juices, even cola soft drinks can leave stains.
  • Smoking — Nicotine leaves yellow stains on your teeth.
  • Drugs — As mentioned above, tetracycline has stained the teeth of many kids. This antibiotic was used heavily in the 60s and 70s, and it caused the dentin in many patients to become gray.
  • Genes — Some people simply have darker teeth than others, and their parents likely did too.
  • Fluorosis — This is an example of too much of a good thing. Too much fluoride can stain a child’s teeth.

How does teeth whitening remove the stains?

The goal of teeth whitening is to return your teeth to their natural bright white color in a process similar to bleaching a stain out of a shirt. The bleaching agents we use are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, for in-office or at-home whitening, respectively. The enamel on your teeth is somewhat porous; that’s why it stains in the first place. The peroxide penetrates the tooth enamel and breaks down the stains, whitening them usually from three to seven shades.

Our teeth whitening options at Gentle Dentistry

We offer both in-office and at-home whitening at Gentle Dentistry. Both options usually result in a similar degree of whitening. The difference is time. Our in-office whitening takes just about an hour. At-home whitening takes a couple of weeks.

  • Boost™ in-office whitening — We use the Boost™ whitening system from Opalescence Tooth Whitening Systems. It uses a 38% hydrogen peroxide concentration to remove stains. Plus, Boost™ contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to minimize sensitivity and actually strengthen your enamel during the whitening procedure. Unlike light-activated whitening, Boost™ is chemically activated, so our patients don’t need to worry about an uncomfortable hot light. We apply the Boost™ gel with a brushed tip to all of your teeth, and then activate it. In an hour your teeth are dramatically whiter.
  • At-home whitening — For our at-home whitening program we take impressions of your teeth and use them to create custom trays for your upper and lower teeth. Unlike over-the-counter trays that are made in general sizes, our custom trays provide the snug fit required for the whitening gel to be the most effective. We then provide you with syringes of carbamide peroxide whitening gel, ranging in strength based on your tooth sensitivity and degree of staining. At home you wear the filled trays for 15 minutes to one hour every day for one to two weeks.

Can teeth whitening damage my teeth?

Teeth whitening has proven to be totally safe over decades of procedures. There are not any recorded instances of irreversible or structural damage caused by whitening programs.

Will whitening make my teeth sensitive?

Whitening can make your teeth a little more sensitive for a brief period of time after the application, but this sensation passes quickly. If you have particularly sensitive teeth, be sure to tell the team at Gentle Dentistry beforehand because we can desensitize your teeth before we perform the whitening.

How long will my teeth stay white?

Just how long your teeth stay bright white is really up to you. If your teeth became stained before by coffee and the like, they will become stained again. But you don’t have to give up that glass of red wine; when you feel your teeth are becoming a little dingy again, simply come back in and we’ll whiten them again. Or, if you have at-home trays, we supply your whitening gel annually with our “White for Life” program.
Home hygiene also makes a difference. Using whitening toothpaste (ADA approved, of course), and brushing for two minutes twice daily is important. Plus, coming in for twice-yearly professional cleanings with Gentle Dentistry is equally important to keeping your teeth their whitest.

Does insurance cover whitening?

Insurance does not usually cover teeth whitening, as it is considered a cosmetic procedure. If you have a flex spending account, you can use it to cover the cost of the whitening. Call and ask about our “White for Life” Program and our “Dental $avings Plan”!

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