Professional Teeth Whitening & Bleaching

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Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening & Bleaching to a brilliant white smile does more than lift your mood and the mood of those around you. The attractive smile speaks volumes, indicating that you are intelligent and successful, honest and friendly, healthy and even wealthy. Discoloration, on the other hand, can make you appear older and less energetic than you really are.

The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel, combined with the color of the dentin under it. Your genes affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel. Thinner enamel allows more of the color of the dentin to show through. Having smoother or rougher enamel also affects the reflection of light and therefore the color. Every day, a thin coating (pellicle) forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains.

Over time, your new dentin starts to appear more yellowish as the enamel starts to become thinner due to wear, grinding, or exposure to acidic foods and drinks. The discolored dentin then reflects through the enamel like a prism, making the tooth look yellow.

Common Reasons for Yellow or Stained Teeth

  • Using tobacco: Two chemicals found in tobacco create stubborn stains: Tar and nicotine. Tar is surface-staining substance.
  • Drinking dark-colored liquids such as coffee, cola, tea and red wine: Intense color pigments.
  • Age: Over time, the outer enamel layer of our teeth gets thinner with use and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.
  • Trauma: If you've been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change color because it reacts to an injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.
  • Medications: Tooth darkening can be a side effect of certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth. Certian antibiotics, taken for long durations before the teeth mature, can also lead to bluish discoloration.
  • Amelogenesis: A rare dental disorder called Amelogenesis imperfecta (AI) which makes the teeth yellow or brown.
  • Genetics: which determine the color of your teeth from birth.
  • Silver (amalgam/mercury) fillings.
  • Not taking good care of your teeth.

Proffesional Teeth Whitening Products and Systems

There are many teeth whitening systems and products including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays, and whitening products obtained from a dentist.

Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best. But this cosmetic procedure is not recommended for everyone. The best way to begin any teeth-whitening regimen is to schedule an appointment and talk to your dentist about the differences between in-office professional whitening and at-home whitening.

teeth whitening tray

Professional Dental Whitening Treatment

The first professional option is commonly referred to as "in-office whitening". After a thorough exam of your teeth, gums and supporting bone structure, Dentist will tell you whether tooth whitening is a safe option for your smile. Dentist-supervised treatments provide greater tooth whitening results and faster than store bought kits.

In office treatment procedure:

  • Prepare your mouth by covering your lips and gums so that only your teeth are exposed
  • Apply a professional-strength whitening gel to your teeth
  • Expose your teeth to a special light to help the gel penetrate and whiten your teeth
  • Reapply the gel and light treatment, if needed
Teeth Whiting in Home

At-Home Teeth Bleaching

Whitening Tray or Tray bleaching is a type of professional whitening that uses custom-made trays and whitening gel only available through your dentist. The whitening gel is placed in custom-fitted trays that fit perfectly over your teeth, dentist will give you instructions on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and for what length of time.

As the peroxide in the gel breaks down, hydroxy radicals help to whiten the stained teeth. Unlike strips, this process whitens all your natural teeth and may contain ingredients intended to provide maximum comfort. At-home professional tray whitening can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, although you may notice results in as little as three to five days.

Over-the-Counter Teeth Bleaching Products

You may see different options online or in your local grocery store, such as toothpastes or strips that whiten by bleaching your teeth. The concentration of the bleaching agent in these products is lower than what your dentist would use in the office. If you are thinking about using an over-the-counter bleaching kit, discuss options with your dentist and look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. That means it has been tested to be safe and effective for teeth whitening.

Whitening Toothpastes

All toothpastes help remove surface stains, because they contain mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that helps lighten the color deep in the tooth. Whitening toothpastes can lighten the tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast, prescription strength whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.

Other over-the-counter teeth whitening options, and one type of readily accessible whitening products like.

  • Paint-On Teeth Whiteners
  • Teeth-Whitening Strips and Gels
  • Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash

If you would like to learn more about teeth whitening, please contact Impact Dental Care at 703-952-6600 or schedule an appointment.

How Long Do Whitening Effects Last?

Teeth whitening is not permanent. People who expose their teeth to foods and beverages that cause staining may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as one month. Those who avoid foods and beverages that stain may be able to wait one year or longer before another whitening treatment or touch-up is needed.

The degree of whiteness will vary from individual to individual depending on the condition of the teeth, the level of staining, and the type of bleaching system used.

Risks Associated With Teeth Whitening

The two side effects that occur most often with teeth whitening are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity and mild irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth, particularly the gums. Tooth sensitivity often occurs during early stages of the bleaching treatment. Tissue irritation most commonly results from an ill-fitting mouthpiece tray rather than the tooth-bleaching agent. Both of these conditions usually are temporary and disappear within 1 to 3 days of stopping or completing treatment.

Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.


If you do experience sensitivity, you can reduce or eliminate it by:

  • Wearing the tray for a shorter period of time in a session.
  • Stop whitening your teeth for 2 to 3 days to allow teeth to adjust to the process.
  • Ask your dentist or pharmacist for a high fluoride-containing product, which can help remineralize your teeth.
  • Apply the fluoride product to the tray and wear for 4 minutes prior to and following the whitening agent.
  • Brush teeth with toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes contain potassium nitrate, which helps soothe the teeth's nerve endings.

Some of problems can affect the success of tooth whitening. For example, cavities need to be treated before teeth are whitened. That's because the whitening solution can pass through decayed areas and reach the inner parts of the tooth. If your gums have receded, the exposed roots of your teeth may appear yellow or discolored. Whitening products will not make them whiter.

If you have tooth decay or receding gums, whitening may make your teeth sensitive. Whitening also does not work on ceramic or porcelain crowns or veneers.

Whitening Does Not Work On All Teeth

It is important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. It also won' be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.

Talk to your dentist before starting to find if you are a candidate for teeth whitening.

Teeth Whitening FAQ

Q. Does tooth whitening cause permanent tooth sensitivity?

A. Sensitivity from tooth whitening is always transient. If there is any sensitivity caused by the whitening, it goes away within one to two days after the treatment, and the patient returns to the state of sensitivity he or she had prior to starting the whitening process.

Q. Can I get my teeth whitened?

A. Most people are candidates for tooth whitening, but again, each situation is unique and it's best to contact your dental professional.

Q. How long does tooth whitening last?

A. Typically you can expect whitening to last from six months to two years, although some studies report results lasting up to 10 years. Avoiding red wine, coffee, and smoking—all of which can cause staining—helps preserve the results.

Q. Is tooth bleaching safe?

A. Yes, many studies have proven that tooth whitening is safe. You can protect your tooth enamel by using calcium sulfate and fluoride.

Q. Does tooth whitening affect fillings, veneers, or crowns?

A. Tooth whitening has little or no effect on restorative materials such as porcelain or crowns, but it may temporarily reduce the bond strength between enamel and composite restorations. This is why it is a good idea to check with your dental professional before beginning any course of tooth whitening.

Q. Is the agent used in tooth whitening toxic?

A. Products developed from carbamide peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, and urea (substances found in every human cell), should be used cautiously to alleviate concern. Those who have issues are the ones who don't follow instructions and overuse the products for months or years.

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