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Professional Teeth Teeth Whitening w/LED Light Complete Guide for patients

teeth whitening smile

An educated patient is our best client.  To better prepare for your upcoming appointment please read this guide to understand what to expect from your in-office teeth whitening appointment. After performing thousands of procedures, we’ve learned quite a bit. Below is everything you need to know about your appointment.  The whitening gel cannot penetrate through plaque and calculus.  For best results it’s important to have a recent dental cleaning.  

Teeth Whitening works by exfoliating stains from inside your teeth to bring them back to their natural color. Our teeth whitening is a process that uses a 35% hydrogen peroxide gel, the gel is activated via a special LED light.

Your eyes, lips and gums are completely covered and protected throughout the entire procedure. Whitening is considered one of the safest procedures available in dentistry.

The procedure consists of three 15-minute sessions. A fresh layer of whitening gel is applied after each session as the old gel is removed from your teeth.

Teeth Whitening Results Cannot be Predicted

We will measure your initial shade, and the final shade to see how many shades lighter you got. But there’s no way to predict how many shades lighter your teeth will get beforehand.

The whitening process removes stains that we all accumulate over the years from coffee, tea, juice, soda, fruits and berries, sauces, salads etc… The final shade is your natural tooth color, which is unique for everyone. The only way to find out is to try the in-office teeth whitening for yourself.

In our recent office study of 100 random patients, the average patient got results of 7.3 shades lighter. Some patients got as many as 15 shades lighter, while a small percentage (<5%) got only 2 or 3 shades lighter.

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Teeth Whitening Results Will Look Natural

before and after teeth whitening

Some patients desire for their teeth to look as white as Chiclets. Others will tell us that they want their teeth to look natural, not too white. Since the whitening process removes stains to bring out the natural tooth color, the results after in-office whitening will always look natural.

Some people are blessed with having a natural Hollywood smile. While others, even many famous Hollywood actors, require veneers to get those pearly whites to look more like Chiclets.

Teeth Whitening Results are Instantaneous

You will see results immediately after the LED whitening procedure. We’ll be able to take your new tooth shade and measure how much lighter the teeth have gotten.

However, the teeth immediately after the whitening are dehydrated, as they’ve lost moisture. There’s a bit of a rebound as the teeth regain their moisture over the next several days.

This is also why we recommend not to choose the shade for any dental work that same day. If we plan to proceed with any cosmetic work such as veneers or crowns we generally wait a week before picking a shade.

Any previous dental work does not change color. Crowns and veneers are made of porcelain, the shade of which cannot be changed. A dental bonding is filling, the color of which is also picked before they’re placed, thus they cannot be lightened.

That doesn’t mean that you should not do whitening if you have a crown, veneer, or a filling on a front tooth.

Often the color of the restorative work is actually lighter than the rest of the teeth. Over the years the natural teeth may have gotten stained or the shade was never matched perfectly in the first place. You have the option to look in the mirror after each session to decide when it’s time to stop the whitening.

If you’re unsatisfied with your current bonding, veneer or crown you should also consider replacing them as an option. A dentist will consult with you before starting the treatment to answer all of your concerns and discuss possible options.

White Spots on Teeth

Many of us have white spots or streaks on our teeth, often we may not even realize they exist. We’ll inspect your teeth before starting the procedure and point out any white spots we find.

They’re often covered up by stains and don’t show up prominently. The white spots may have been caused by previous orthodontic treatment or they may be genetic. As we remove the stains from teeth with whitening, the white spots will become more prominent.

The white spots will also get even brighter because they will whiten as well. Usually, after a few days the white spots will blend in a bit more. But expect them to possibly stand out more in the beginning.

Crowns, Veneers & Bonding Won’t Change Color

Teeth Whitening before and after image

Dietary Restrictions Post Whitening

Teeth Whitening diet

For the first 48 hours the pores in enamel are open, they can absorb stains faster than before. We provide our clients with a comprehensive list of what you can and cannot eat or drink during that time.  Colorless foods such as mashed potatoes, skinless chicken or turkey, pasta, white rice, apples, cheese, white wine, water, etc… are fine to eat.   As a rule anything that stains a white shirt, will stain your teeth. We realize that the diet is very restrictive.

Please do your best, if you happen to eat or drink something you shouldn’t then brush your teeth or rinse with water right after. If you plan on drinking coffee please do so with a straw, this way only the back of your teeth are exposed to coffee.

Teeth Sensitivity during and after teeth whitening is an important concern for our patients and for everyone in our office. We want you to be comfortable during and after the procedure.

While 90% of our clients complete the entire treatment, it’s important to understand that completing the three 15-minute sessions of our teeth whitening process is not for everyone.

We monitor our clients closely and encourage them to let us know when they start feeling sensitivity. Sensitivity is a “zing,” or a “zap” that your tooth may feel during the procedure. One or two is normal but more than that means that it’s time to stop.

We provide you with a bell to ring so you can let us know when that happens. Our clients generally get good results even if they’ve completed just 2 sessions. Sensitivity is the body’s natural way of telling you that it’s time to stop. If the whitening process is stopped before teeth become more sensitive, you will be much more comfortable for the rest of the day.

In a recent survey of 250 clients who had teeth whitening in our office; 89% reported little or no sensitivity after tooth whitening, 9% reported some sensitivity or discomfort, ~2% of patients reported severe discomfort for the first 24 hours.

Pain Management

Although moderate to severe sensitivity is rare, unfortunately a small percentage (~5 %) of our clients will experience some discomfort after the whitening.

Although we try to encourage everyone to stop when their teeth start to feel sensitive, it’s not always easy for the client to stop before sensitivity increases. In our office, we can provide a sensitivity paste treatment before you head out. M.I. paste made with Recaldent, a milk derived protein helps soothe the nerves inside teeth which are causing sensitivity.

The treatment generally takes about 5 to 10 minutes to provide relief.

Taking an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve etc… relieves the nerves inside teeth that got inflamed during the whitening treatment. Please note Tylenol is not an anti-inflammatory, it works best when taken in combination with an anti-inflammatory.

We recommend taking 400mg (2 pills) every 4 hours if sensitivity persists. For severe sensitivity please take an additional tablet of Tylenol 2 hours after taking the Ibuprofen.

Certain toothpastes such as Sensodyne can relieve sensitivity. At home, we recommend applying the toothpaste for sensitivity to your teeth for 5-10 minutes.

LED Teeth Whitening is Not Recommended for Pregnant Women

Although teeth whitening is a very safe procedure. Doctors in general do not recommend any elective cosmetic procedures for pregnant women.

Even if the risk is just 0.000001% it’s still something that’s not worth taking. There has not been any harm ever reported, it’s just not a risk worth taking.

Tooth Sensitivity From Teeth Whitening

teeth whitening results

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