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What Happens During In-Office Teeth Whitening?

Looking to whiten and brighten your teeth professionally but are hesitant about going to the dentist? Like many people, you may be putting off receiving an in-office teeth whitening treatment because you have little understanding of how the treatment is administered.

While the exact procedure used to carry out in-office whitening may vary slightly from dentist to dentist, the steps involved are pretty much routine. Here's what to expect during an in-office teeth whitening appointment.

1. Determining The Current Shade Of Your Teeth

Before starting, your dentist will take a shade measurement of your teeth. They'll do this by matching your current tooth color to a shade on a shade guide chart or system. This is essential for establishing how many shades lighter you want your teeth to become after completing whitening treatment.

2. Polishing Your Teeth

Because whitening agents can't penetrate plaque and tartar, your dentist will polish your teeth using pumice — a mild abrasive material that effectively removes any surface stains from teeth. This increases the effectiveness of the whitening treatment.

3. Exposing Your Teeth And Protecting The Rest Of Your Mouth

Your dentist will use a retractor to expose all your teeth while keeping your lips, cheeks, and tongue away from the whitening agent. They'll also place a barrier over the gums to further protect them from the whitening agent.

4. Applying A Whitening Agent To Your Teeth And Activating It

The teeth whitening gels or solutions used during in-office whitening procedures are made of either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Once your teeth have been exposed and the fleshy parts of your mouth covered to keep them from coming into contact with the whitening agent, your dentist will apply the whitening agent to the front part of your teeth and leave it on until the desired shade has been reached. This may take up to an hour or require multiple sessions, depending on the product.

Many whitening products require a light activator source to work, so your dentist may use an LED or laser light during this part of the treatment.

Cost, convenience, and results are the three main factors that impact patients' choice of a teeth whitening treatment. In-office whitening treatment will cost you more and can be less convenient than whitening treatments with over-the-counter products or at-home whitening kits. However, it guarantees the best long-term whitening effect. If you have the time to allocate to a cosmetic teeth whitening treatment, contact a local dentist to book your initial consultation.