Teeth Whitening 101

Teeth Whitening 101

What is teeth whitening?

The active ingredients in whitening products are carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. When in contact with your teeth, these products remove surface stains and also lighten the color deep into the tooth. Whitening can be done in a single appointment at the dental clinic or at home over a period of about two weeks.

Before teeth whitening

Before a teeth whitening treatment, it is necessary to have your teeth cleaned and to undergo a comprehensive dental examination to make sure that you do not have any defective restorations or cavities.

Your dentist will also determine the cause of your tooth discoloration which is crucially important to ensure the success of your treatment.  The color change can be superficial, meaning that it is caused by tartar and plaque accumulation on the tooth.  These deposits become colored over time due to frequent consumption of tobacco, coffee, tea or red wine.

A simple teeth cleaning and polishing can give you a satisfactory result.  In other cases, the staining comes from the enamel and dentin and is caused by natural aging, tooth decay, consumption of tobacco and some medications.

Professional teeth whitening

Your dentist takes an impression of your teeth to make a mold. This enables the dentist to make plastic gutters that are perfectly adapted to your teeth.

A small amount of carbamide peroxide gel (16%) is placed in the gutter which is worn daily for 60 to 90 minutes on your teeth.  The treatment lasts an average of two weeks but may extend for a longer period to get satisfactory results if the staining is tenacious.

For those wanting immediate results, we also offer teeth whitening sessions at the dental clinic.

Over-the-counter whitening products

Various whitening products are available at the drugstore.  These kits come in the form of self-adhesive tapes, products to be applied to the toothbrush or in gutters.  The active ingredient is similar to the one used in the dental practice, but at a lower concentration.  Sensitivity and irritation are possible side effects. They are more frequent with this type of treatment because the gutters are not custom-made.

Things to know during your teeth whitening treatment

If you feel a sensitivity during your treatment, reduce the duration of the gel application by half or stop the treatment for a few days before resuming.

In some cases, it is not possible to completely eliminate stains because they may withstand the whitening product.  When the result is not satisfactory, we can advise you aesthetic restorations (dental veneers) to correct the situation.

In addition, it is good to know that dental restorations like crowns, veneers and composite fillings do not whiten.  It makes sense to anticipate the cost of replacing them after the teeth whitening treatment to ensure that all teeth are the same shade.