How is teeth whitening done at the dentist?

Improve your smile with teeth-whitening treatments.

If you're not satisfied with your smile and stained teeth are the cause, you may want to consider a tooth whitening treatment. The process involves applying a bleaching chemical directly to the tooth's surface and leaving it to work on the enamel.

While over-the-counter bleaching products are available, treatment at a dental surgery means you'll be sure your teeth and gums are suited to the whitening gel. Your dentist will also be able to advise you how many treatments are needed and how long each application should be, in order to achieve the results you want.

Treatment is available during visits to the surgery, or can be applied at home following a consultation with your dentist. In any case, it is recommended that you have a dentist or hygienist clean your teeth to remove bacteria, food and other build up as the treatment will not work through plaque or tartar.

The at-home whitening method

How long you continue depends on the level of whitening desired.

Rather than at least one, and possibly several, trips to the dentist, this method starts at the surgery and continues at home over a longer period of time.

During the consultation period, the dentist will take impressions of your top and bottom teeth to create a custom-made tray. You fill the tray with the whitening gel given to you by your dentist and wear it for a short period every day. The whitening gel remains in contact with the teeth throughout the treatment. 

Your dentist will tell you exactly how and when to apply the gel. Some patients only need to wear the tray for an hour a day, while others will use it for three to four. How long you continue to use the tray depends on the level of whitening desired. Some people have results within a week, others need to continue treatment for a longer period.

There are various types of bleaching gel available and for treatments at home, carbamide peroxide-based products are often used. In these gels the active bleaching agent is hydrogen peroxide. While some over-the-counter options are licensed to contain carbamide peroxide, if you do consider this form of treatment it is important to check whether the product contains a bleaching agent rather than one of the less effective alternatives. 

Improve your smile with teeth whitening treatments.Teeth whitening can make a real difference to your smile.

In-surgery whitening treatment

An alternative option is to have the dental work in the surgery. A stronger whitening gel can be used to speed up the process. The dentist may also use a specialised light or laser to activate the gel which aids faster treatment. 

However, in-surgery treatment is often less convenient for the patient, and can require several visits of one to three hours. The method is less predictable than the at-home treatment and produces a shorter term change in colour due to initial dehydration of the enamel – a side effect of using a stronger bleaching gel.

What to know before you start

  • The results are different for everyone. Teeth whitening treatments will only get your teeth as white as they are naturally. 
  • Dental implants and crowns are impervious to bleaching treatments.
  • The process can be uncomfortable for people who suffer from sensitive teeth. Those who do not usually experience the issue may find it occurs temporarily after whitening.
  • How long the results last is largely down to the natural colour of the teeth to begin with and the lifestyle of the patient. Expect to return for further treatments every six to 24 months.
  • Certain foods, drinks and smoking encourage tooth discolouration which will require more frequent treatment. Patients are advised to avoid staining products in the first 24 hours following the treatment.

If you'd like to improve your smile, contact City Dentists today to find out more about our teeth whitening treatments. We can answer all of your questions and advise you as to whether bleaching is the right treatment for you. Call us on 04 978 4964 or book an appointment online.