Whitening or “Bleaching’ refers to making the color of your natural teeth lighter in color. You can also lighten the color of teeth in your smile by placing dental materials over the teeth (crowns, veneers, resin bonding), but this section will only describe the methods of making the enamel on your teeth lighter. If you are interested in covering your teeth with dental materials or replacing existing crowns or veneers to improve the appearance of your smile, check out those sections of our site. As experienced cosmetic dentists, Drs. Steel can evaluate your individual situation and make recommendations.
There are a variety of methods and materials that have been available to lighten your teeth and Drs. Steel can help you determine which method is best for you. In our office we generally use three methods : In-office bleaching, At-Home systems and on occasion, bleaching of a single discolored tooth.
The in-office system that we have used for a number of years is Zoom™ Professional Whitening. With the Zoom™ system, we can isolate the teeth and apply a concentrated bleaching solution in a series of applications while a specially designed light is directed at the teeth. This method is designed to accelerate the bleaching process and is a great option for people that want more immediate whitening results. After the process, we will provide you with bleaching trays to use for touch-up applications in the future.
The other option that we have been using for many years is At-Home bleaching. If this method is selected, we will make a custom fit appliance that you wear over your teeth. Professional whitening gel is then placed in this bleaching “tray” and worn at night (much like a retainer or nightguard only thinner) or for a time during the day. Because the appliance is form-fit to your teeth, the bleaching solution stays in contact with the teeth and as a result is very effective. Usually after a few applications you will notice a significant change in the appearance of your teeth.
Lastly, we occasionally need to lighten a single discolored tooth. If the tooth is otherwise attractive (shape, size, symmetry) we can use bleaching methods to help make it match the adjacent teeth in your smile. Each situation calls for an individualized solution. We can help you determine what whitening options will work best for your needs.
All of these whitening procedures will result in lighter teeth if completed under the guidance of a professional. Over time, everyone’s teeth get darker, although at different rates, based on things that the teeth are exposed to, such as dark liquids, tobacco products, etc. That applies to people who have bleached and even people that have never bleached.
The good news is that if you don’t have significant changes to your teeth, your bleaching appliances should fit for a long time and can be used for touch-ups in the future. Usually, it only takes an application or two to bring back the brightness of your smile if you notice minor darkening over months or years.
If you are interested in finding out what options would improve the brightness of your smile, contact our office today.