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Question: What is Teeth Whitening (Teeth Bleaching)?

Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic service provided by dentists.  Teeth Whitening is a way to reverse the signs of age in teeth, and remove the years of cumulative stain from coffee, wine, soda, teriyaki sauce, tomato sauce, etc. These unsightly stains can be removed quickly, safely, and with minimal discomfort. 

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Question: Is whitening safe? Does Whitening harm your tooth’s enamel?

Answer:Teeth bleaching has proven to be a safe and effective way of achieving a more youthful and healthy-looking smile. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) has lent its support and approval for enhancing the esthetics of one's smile via in-office and home bleaching, and has given its Seal of Approval to a number of whitening systems. The safety and effectiveness of this procedure is directly related to the dosage given, the frequency and duration of treatment, the concentration and type of the material used, and the type of tray or system utilized. Like anything, it can be abused, and cause adverse results. During the time that you whiten, the fluoride-rich layer of the enamel is broken down and the teeth become more porous, making them more susceptible to the acids and sugars in your mouth. Within 24-48 hours your tooths enamel will re-mineralize and build up that protective fluoride-rich layer again. If you become a whitening junkie, and never give your enamel the chance to re-mineralize, then you can cause long term adverse effects to your teeth.

Question: Is it better to wear my home whitening trays during the day or when I sleep at night?

Answer:There are two basic options for home bleaching: daytime and nighttime intervals. Both forms of whitening involve wearing a customized, soft tray, which functions as a reservoir for the whitening gel. Patient compliance is usually better at night, although some people may not be able to tolerate going to sleep with these trays in their mouth. Night use affords the individual maximum benefit from each application because of the longer exposure time and diminished salivary flow. However, occasionally people may need to reduce the duration of their treatment as a result of sensitivity or personal preference. For these individuals, daytime wear is recommended for 1-2 hour intervals of treatment. It is imperative that your dentist professionally supervises this procedure, and that the whitening tray be custom made to ensure a perfect fit.

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Question: What is the difference between an over-the-counter whitening strip and pre-formed trays versus a custom tray made in the dental office?

Answer:The importance of a custom-fitted tray cannot be over-emphasized; it allows for maximum patient comfort, reduces side effects, and maximizes efficacy. The over-the-counter versions may be ill-fitting and clumsy, or just may not cover all the desired tooth surfaces that you would want to whiten.

Question: How long does whitening last before I have to do it again?

Answer:With good oral care the procedure's results may last over two years, and recent studies have shown that most patients experience only a one-shade regression after 6 months. Of course, those patients who smoke, drink dark teas and coffee, indulge in red wine and other readily staining foods and beverages are more likely to relapse sooner and require additional whitening sessions. Custom home-tray whitening usually tends to revert less than in-office techniques, but it takes longer to achieve desired results.

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