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I’m Dreaming… of a White Smile!

Dental Whitening

teeth whitening Did you know that one of the first things people notice is a person’s smile? That focus on wanting a ‘Hollywood smile’ with straight, white, beautiful teeth is because it makes such a strong first impression! The downside is, many of us live our day to day lives with things we can’t get by without, like dark sodas, coffee, teas, and let’s be honest, that glass of red wine. These everyday necessities are some of the number one causes for stained teeth. However for people in the real world, achieving that beautiful white smile may be as simple as committing to a teeth whitening procedure.

What are whitening options to consider?

First and foremost this article is not a replacement for a proper consult with your dentist. Make sure to make an appointment to sit with us and discuss the best options for YOU. But to give you an overview of your options, here’s what we have to offer…

  • Over the counter whitening strips and toothpaste:
    • Pros:  Cost effective, can whiten teeth several shades
    • Cons:  Misses areas in between teeth, can affect tissue health, other methods can yield better whitening results
  • Professional Custom Trays:
    • Pros: Long term results, custom fitted to your teeth, decreased sensitivity, convenience for monthly touch-ups, a variety of whitening strengths and formulas to fit everybody’s unique sensitivity and time commitment needs
    • More expensive than white strip and toothpaste
  • In-Office Whitening
    • Pros:  Quickest results, best whitening result, comes with professional custom trays for long term maintenance and touch-ups
    • Cons:  Some sensitivity issues, costs more than other options


The Nitty Gritty:  How does Bleaching work?

Let’s start from the beginning and discuss how teeth are stained.  There are two types of staining that we talk about in dentistry, intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic stains are found below the enamel layer of the tooth and are caused by years of constant exposure to elements that cause discoloration.  This type of staining is much harder to whiten.  Extrinsic stains are like surface stains on the teeth. Discoloration caused by coffee, teas, and red wines are considered extrinsic stains, and can be removed with whitening products. If you already have dental work done, like fillings, bondings, and crowns, they also will not whiten, so check with us before moving forward with your whitening decision. The first step to our whitening procedure is to take an impression of your teeth.  In one day our wonderful staff at Dental Designs of White Marsh will have two custom bleaching trays made for you, ready for pick up.  For in-office whitening, we have you comfortably seated in the chair, and do four 15-minute sessions with our Zoom! WhiteSpeed whitening light and a high percentage special bleaching agent. For the professional custom take home trays, we give you a lower percentage gel to use daily, weekly, or monthly. The special bleaching agent bubbles stains right out of the enamel in a very short time without changing the structure of the tooth or any existing dental work you may have. The bleaching agents usually contain a form of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide which has oxidizing agents. This is the most common active ingredient in most whitening gels. No matter what type of whitening you do, once you reach your desired brightness, you only need intermittent treatments to maintain your smile.

When Should I Whiten my Teeth?

Bleaching is a great option if you are considering getting any type of dental work in the front teeth. It will give you a desired white shade, which gives the office time to match before work is started.  Whitening is also great prior to special occasions, such as weddings, photo shoots, or any public appearance. With take home trays it is best to at least whiten a minimum of one month prior to your big day, or a two week minimum for in office whitening.

What if I have really sensitive teeth?

Some patients can be cold sensitive during bleaching, with both take home trays, or in office whitening.  This may be due to either natural sensitivity or an underlying cause, so please talk with us prior to starting your whitening routine. If you have sensitive teeth, we like to recommend a desensitizing toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate like Sensodyne, or Crest Sensi Relief for a minimum of 1 week prior to starting your whitening. One month would be best for longer lasting results. There are also prescription strength toothpastes that we carry in office that work best for severely sensitive patients.  Make sure to ask us if this applies to you. If you want that Hollywood smile, whitening is a great solution for getting you one step closer.  However it is not a one size fits all procedure, so stop by and see us to find out which product works best for you!