Many people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, and getting regular cleanings at the dentist’s office. However, if you decide you would like to go beyond regular care to make your smile look brighter, we offer several options to help make sure your smile is as bright as possible.
Professional in-office teeth whitening as well as follow-up home whitening can be a very visible and cost-effective way to transform your smile to it’s brightest. 1st Family Dental offers several options for teeth whitening.
In-Office Steps to Professional Teeth Whitening
- Pre-whitening Exam: Before deciding to have teeth whitening treatments, you must have a dental exam to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough for whitening treatment. If you have dental restorations such as veneers, crowns, or bridges, whitening treatment may affect them, and a dentist will explain the benefits and considerations. At 1st Family Dental, the pre-whitening exam is scheduled along with the whitening procedure. As long as everything looks OK to proceed, the whitening procedure can take place in the same visit. However,not all individuals are candidates for teeth whitening. For example, issues such as [gum disease] must be treated and managed prior to a whitening procedure. Your dentist will provide you with more information, and detail the potential benefits and risks associated with in-office teeth whitening.
- Recent Dental Cleaning: A recent dental cleaning is required in order to make sure the whitening treatment is effective as possible. Also, you should see your teeth in their ideal condition prior to whitening, with any surface staining, debris and tartar removed, to make sure that teeth whitening is the desired option. If a regular cleaning is required in order to proceed, the cleaning may be performed prior to the whitening procedure in the same visit.
- Optional – Impressions for Take-Home Whitening Trays: Some patients opt for custom-fitted trays for use with at-home whitening treatments to help keep their smile as bright as possible. Prior to your bleaching treatment, you may have impressions taken to create a mould that fits your teeth to hold the whitening material. Note: if you are receiving Invisalign treatment, your trays can also be used for at-home whitening!
- Color/Shade Selection: The next step is to select the desired shade for your teeth. The dentist will provide a shade guide with examples from which you can choose. Your dentist will match the current shade of your teeth using the guide, and you can discuss which shade is most desirable and reasonable to achieve, and compare the results to the original shade as treatment progresses.
- Touch-Up cleaning: if necessary, your dentist may polish your teeth to make sure your teeth are clean and free of debris that could prevent the whitening treatment from achieving optimal results.
- Isolating the Teeth: The materials used during professional whitening treatments should not touch soft tissue such as the gums, tongue, or cheeks. Your mouth and face will be prepared by using any variety of barriers, including plastic retractors, cotton rolls, bibs, protective eyewear, liquid protective barriers for the gums, etc.
- Applying the Whitening Material: Once your teeth are isolated, the whitening material is applied to your teeth. Some types of treatments use lasers to activate the whitening materials. Then, the whitener is given time to work. Typically the whitener is reapplied and re-activated over a series of 15 to 20 minutes sessions, which are repeated until the desired shade is reached. During the whitening sessions, you’ll be able to check the progress with the shade guide and mirror.
- Enjoying the results: Once the whitening treatment is complete, your teeth and gums will be thoroughly washed, all protective barriers will be removed, and you’ll be able to smile and see the results of your whitening treatment!
Cost and Insurance Coverage for Teeth Whitening
Teeth Whitening is typically not covered by dental insurance. The cost of whitening may vary based on the whitening system used, as well as any specials or promotions for the service. Professional whitening services are offered at all 1st Family Dental locations, and our staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about professional teeth whitening.
Post-procedure care for Teeth Whitening
The 48 hours following professional teeth whitening are critical in making sure your smile stays as bright as possible. During this period your teeth will be more porous and susceptible to staining, acids and sugars. Your dentist will provide you with post-procedure instructions at your visits. They may include instructions to avoid the following for at least 48 hours:
- All Tobacco Products
- Coffee or Tea
- Red Wine
- Acidic foods and/or those with dark pigments (tomatoes/red sauce, berries, condiments, soy sauce, etc.)
- Lipstick or colored balm/ointments
If your teeth feel more sensitive following the whitening procedure, contact your dentist. This sensitivity is normal and typically goes away shortly after the procedure.
Keeping a great at home oral hygiene routine that includes brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day, flossing each day, and visiting your dentist for regular checkup and cleaning visits is the best possible way to keep your smile as white and bright as possible.