Your wedding is coming up, and you want your smile to be its brightest. Or maybe you have an important speaking engagement. Whatever the reason, tooth bleaching isn’t just for movie stars, and it isn’t just for one day. Many people have had their teeth bleached, and probably millions more are thinking about it. The desire for a brighter smile with whiter teeth is very strong, and tooth bleaching safely lightens the color of the teeth, lasting indefinitely. The most effective and safest method of tooth bleaching is dentist-supervised. There are numerous commercial whitening products available to you that are either ineffective, damaging to your teeth, or complete scams. Please ask your dentist about any product you have questions about!

Generally, bleaching is successful in at least 90 percent of patients, though it may not be an option for everyone. Consider tooth bleaching if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking. Teeth darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange respond better to bleaching. Gray stains caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline use can be lightened, but results are not as dramatic. Bleaching does not lighten artificial materials such as bonding or veneers. If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal (gum) disease or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleaching.

What’s Involved?

First, the dentist will determine whether you are a candidate for tooth bleaching and what type of bleaching system would provide the best results. If you’re in a hurry for whiter teeth, you may decide to have your teeth lightened immediately. Your dentist will use either an in-office bleaching system or laser bleaching while you sit in the dental chair. Some patients choose dentist-supervised at-home bleaching, which is more economical and provides similar, if not better, results.

At your first appointment, your dentist will make impressions of your teeth to create a mouthguard appliance. The mouthguard is custom-made for your mouth and is lightweight so that it can be worn comfortably while you are awake or sleeping. The mouthguard is so thin that you should even be able to talk and work while wearing it. Along with the mouthguard, you’ll receive the bleaching materials. You’ll be given instructions on how to wear the mouthguard.

This whitening system recommends bleaching your teeth for 1-2 hours a day, or while you sleep. This type of system usually requires only 10 to 14 days to complete.