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Tooth Whitening FAQ

A beautiful, white smile is a sign of youth, health, and is a social asset. Most would agree that a person’s smile is one of the first things they notice. Tooth whitening, or “bleaching”, is a popular dental treatment and there are several methods achieve a whiter smile. Following are several common questions that are asked when a patient considers brightening their smile.

What is the procedure?

For traditional take-home systems, impressions are made of your teeth and a set of custom gel carriers, or trays are fabricated. The whitening gel is applied inside the trays and inserted onto the teeth.

How long do you wear the trays?

We typically recommend the patient wear the trays overnight so they do not disrupt daily activities. You also salivate and swallow less while sleeping, so the procedure is more comfortable. For those who cannot tolerate the trays at night, we recommend several consecutive hours daily. The more you keep them in place, the better your result will be.

How long does it take?

The take-home kit generally takes a week to ten days. Depending on the severity of discoloration, you may need several additional applications. You may also elect to “touch up” every few months or so. You can buy gel refills without having new trays made.

Can you eat or drink with the trays in place?

It is recommended that you do not drink while wearing bleaching trays. Pigmented drinks and foods may enter the trays and negate the effects of the whitening gel.

Does it hurt the enamel?

The gels used to whiten teeth do not hurt enamel. The whitening gel works by entering microscopic channels in the enamel and interacting with pigmented molecules that reside there. Whitening gels are specially formulated compounds that break down into hydrogen peroxide and are not corrosive to tooth enamel.

Does it damage the gums?

The whitening gels designed for take-home use are not damaging to gum tissue. However, those used for in-office procedures contain a higher concentration of the active ingredients and can be harmful to gum tissues. Your dental professionals will apply a protectant to your gums and closely supervise any in-office treatment to ensure safety.

What is “power bleach”?

Power bleaching is an in-office procedure that may be combined with take-home systems for increased effect. Power bleach is a higher concentration gel and can only be used under professional supervision. While it may be combined with a light, studies show light-acceleration does not increase the whitening effect.

Each tooth whitening case is different and there is no substitute for a professional consultation to determine the treatment that will provide the best result for you. Don’t hesitate to call if we may answer more questions on how to beautify your smile!

Dr. Michael Gillespie has practiced dentistry for over 25 years! The office is located at 611 S. Haywood St. in Waynesville, NC and can be reached at 828-456-9007.

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS