Teeth Whitening

Perhaps the easiest way to brighten a patient's smile is by Tooth Whitening.  Over time, food, dark beverages, and tobacco products saturate the microscopic pours in enamel, altering the tooth's natural color.  Whitening can be a less expensive treatment to remove deep stains and restore teeth to their natural color.

Over-the-counter products such as Whitening Strips or Toothpaste are successful to some extent:  however, most store bought products are only used to remove stains from the surface of enamel.  Our staff often recommends patients try over-the-counter products first, but if not satisfied with the results, we are happy to whiten their teeth with our at-home whitening system, Opalescence®.

Patients should be aware that whitening is not appropriate for all cases.  Composite Fillings which have darkened and porcelain Crowns will not change color and are more likely to stand out as a patient whitens their smile.  After treatment, however, it is possible to replace older restorations to match the new tooth shade, but this adds time and cost to the procedure.  Patients should wait three weeks after whitening before replacing composites or crowns, allowing any back log in shade to occur.

If a patient has major anterior (front) restorations, they may not be a candidate for whitening.  In these cases, restorative options such as Bonding, Veneers / Lumineers or All Ceramic Crowns will give the patient a much nicer and longer lasting result.


At the first appointment, our Dental Assistants take upper and lower Whitening Tray impressions.  They are poured up in stone, and a thin Poly-Vinyl material is Vacu-Pressed to the patient's casts so that the trays fit comfortably.  At delivery, the Whitening Trays are placed in the patient's mouth and checked by the Dentist or Dental Assistant.  A base shade is selected that matches the patient's existing color so their progress can be monitored.  The patient is shown how to use the product, and given the first week of Whitening Gel.  All patients start with the 15% solution.

Because this is a penetrating system, the whitening trays must be worn every night.  Skipping nights will slow the process.  The company recommends brushing with Opalescence Toothpaste once a day while whitening.  After one week, the patient returns for a Whitening Check.  At this time, the Doctor or Dental Assistant will address any problems the patient may be having, and the new shade is recorded.  If the patient is not experiencing sensitivity, they may elect to increase to the 20% solution.

The patient continues to whiten for a minimum of two weeks, to a maximum of four.  For the best results, it is advised to use the product for four consecutive weeks.  After each week, a Whitening Check is required.  When treatment is complete, Opalescence Toothpaste is recommended for daily maintenance.  Booster Kits can be purchased whenever the patient feels the need to touch up their new smile.

Possible Side Effects

  • Increased Temperature Sensitivity
  • "Zingers" - small electrical feelings that come without warning

Both temperature sensitivity and zingers will settle down about 2 - 4 weeks after treatment.  To help with these side effects, we recommend using Sensodyne® Toothpaste while whitening.

  • Bleaching of Gums - temporary whitening of the gums will regain color quickly
  • Gingival Sensitivity - gums become tender and red, the patient may be overloading the tray with whitening solution, or the trays may need to be trimmed.  Allergies to the material are rare, but could occur.
  • Temporal Mandibular Joint Pain - can develop in rare cases due to the thickness of the trays

More Information

For more information please visit the Opalescence Teeth Whitening website by clicking here.


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