This is the procedure of making teeth whiter, and therefore more attractive with the use of a bleaching gel. All systems cause temporary gum and/or tooth sensitivity to some degree. There are three main methods: Zoom or power bleaching, custom tray whitening, and professional strength white strips/trays.
‘Zoom’ or “power bleaching” is a fast but less effective tooth whitening procedure. In just over an hour, your teeth will be dramatically whiter. The convenience of power bleaching in comparison to days of using strips or wearing trays makes it the perfect choice for those who need whiter teeth today. However, the cost, sensitivity and fast color regretion makes it less attractive to most people. The Power Whitening procedure is simple. It begins with a short preparation to isolate your lips and gums. The clinician then applies the power bleach whitening gel a few times over the course of 45 minutes to 1 hour (with or without the use of a light). A fluoride treatment completes the procedure. Take home trays and gel are recommended afterward for maximum whitening and maintenance. We do offer this option in our office for those with needs that are met best with power bleaching, but those are few.
Pros: very quick procedure, considerable color change
Cons: expensive, most post-sensitivity, less user-control of final color, needs trays afterward anyway
The tray method involves having impressions taken of your teeth, from which laboratory fabricated, custom vinyl trays are made. A gel is placed in these trays, and the trays with gel are worn for 30 minutes to 3 hours to overnight, depending on the strength of gel used. The entire process takes 2-4 weeks of daily use. The tray method is recommended for badly stained teeth, such as tetracycline staining, and it may take 1 month or more to see significant color improvement in severe cases. For maintenance of whitened teeth the trays should be used for a few days, usually every 6 months to a year, depending on dental hygiene and tooth-staining habits.THIS IS THE METHOD WE CHOOSE TO OFFER MOST OFTEN IN OUR OFFICE, GIVING THE PATIENT THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS-COST EFFICIENT AND VERY EFFECTIVE.
Pros: custom fit ensures even whitening, user in complete control of final color, least expensive option assuming long-term maintenance, best color change.
Cons: takes 2-4 weeks to complete initial whitening.
Professional Strength Whitening Strips
Professional strength whitening strips are name brand box kits that are only available through a dental office. Weaker strength strips are available over-the-counter at most stores. These work. They use the same ingredients as the gels, only in a strip/tray form. The differences between this option and the two above are fit, coverage, and strength. Whitening strips fall short in all three of these. Long-term maintenance is a concern, as well. Per box is less expensive, but each “touch-up” requires the purchase of another box, which can get quite expensive over time.
Pros: inexpensive initial purchase
Cons: shade change is less dramatic, purchase of more boxes for each touch-up, less predictable results using ill-fitting, non-custom strips
THE SKINNY: unless someone is looking to get teeth white in one day (power bleaching), is okay with minor color changes, or does not care about long-term maintenance (strips), then the best choice is custom trays.