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Hilliard Blank, DDS & Associates > Chicago Dental Blog > Teeth Whitening Treatment


Teeth Whitening Treatment : February 17, 2014

Teeth Whitening at our Lakeview Dental Office

By: Dr. Hilliard Blank

Teeth whitening should always be comfortable and safe. At our office, we’ve been providing whitening treatments for over 20 years. Our techniques are well-developed and rely on the safest methods and least irritating types of bleach. After you’ve had whitening treatment at our office, taking the right steps will reduce your sensitivity, protect your teeth, and make the most out of your steps towards a whiter smile.

Our In-Office Bleach Brand: Ultradent

The brand of bleach we use for teeth whitening is Ultradent, a family-owned dental supply company that has been an industry leader for over 35 years. We use their Opalescence Boost power bleach because it provides highly-effective whitening power with less irritation than other brands and procedures. The Boost formula contains a 40% hydrogen peroxide gel that is chemically-activated to begin working as soon as it touches your teeth. We do not use any irritating lights or lasers in our whitening treatments because the Ultradent whitening products are strong enough to provide great results without extra treatment.

Other whitening products, like Zoom Whitening, require high-energy activation light to initiate the chemical reaction of their bleach. These treatments are often the most painful types of whitening. Not only do they strip protective proteins from your teeth, but their UV light or lasers also inflame the soft living tissue inside your teeth, or the pulp. Recent Zoom products have been upgraded to allow for different levels of intensity on the activation light for improved patient comfort, but we prefer to avoid treatments that create any unnecessary discomfort.

The procedure at our office is very straightforward. It begins with a light cleaning of your teeth. Then, a liquid dam is applied to the gums to prevent any hydrogen peroxide from touching the sensitive tissue. Once this dam has firmed up, the whitening gel is applied to the surface of tooth enamel with small syringes for precise placement. This layer of hydrogen peroxide is left in place for about 20 minutes. After the time has elapsed, the whitening gel is vacuumed off the teeth for safe removal. The bleach application process is repeated once more for a total procedure time of less than one hour.

We also provide custom trays for whitening. A replica of your bite is taken and we create a custom tray from soft plastic using this model. We provide Ultradent carbamide bleach with concentrations of 10%, 15% and 20% for your personal use. Custom trays are our most effective and comfortable type of whitening treatment.

 

Ways to Reduce Sensitivity after Teeth Whitening

Experiencing sensitivity after teeth whitening is to be expected for up to 48 hours after your in-office treatment. Even with take-home trays, there will be some symptoms of tooth sensitivity. Here are a few of the best ways to reduce your teeth’s sensitivity:

  • Reduce use of bleach: shorten your bleaching time or pause your routine
  • Use a fluoride rinse to resupply minerals to your tooth enamel
  • Use a potassium nitrate gel to protect tooth enamel
  • Brush with a toothpaste that reduces sensitivity

At our office, we provide another Ultradent product specifically designed to eliminate tooth sensitivity: Ultra EZ. This is a sustained-released potassium nitrate gel with fluoride that can be applied to the teeth with a syringe or a disposable tray. This treatment combines several important minerals to help teeth quickly recover their natural layers of protection. We also have other options like rinses and toothpaste.


The American Dental Association on Teeth Whitening
 

According to the American Dental Association, there are limits for the concentration of bleach that should be used for teeth whitening. This applies to both in-office bleaching and take-home kits. For take-home bleaches that use carbamide peroxide, the ADA highly recommends that the concentration of bleach should not exceed 35%. If it is a variety of take-home bleach that uses hydrogen peroxide, the bleach concentration should not exceed 10%. For in office treatments, they recommend hydrogen peroxide concentrations of 25-40%. We offer bleach concentrations that are slightly higher than these recommendations for more effective whitening.

The brand of bleach we use, Ultradent, has the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. Zoom Whitening and other types of whitening treatments that use UV or lasers are not backed by the ADA because there has been very little evidence to support the long-term effectiveness of light-activated whitening treatments.


Professional Recommendations for Over-the-Counter Whitening Products

There are dozens of new products available that promise customers whiter, brighter smiles, but not all of them are effective. The most recent advances in commercial dentistry have led to new products like whitening rinses, chewing gums and toothpastes.

  • Whitening rinses do very little to whiten your teeth because of the limited amount of time they are in contact with your enamel. They may be useful for improving your overall oral hygiene, but their whitening effects will be limited.
  • Chewing gum with whitening properties is also relatively ineffective. Sugarless chewing gum helps to remove plaque from your teeth by increasing saliva production and physically grabbing debris out of your teeth, but don’t count on it for a brighter smile.
  • Whitening toothpastes are more effective than rinses and gums, but have a chemical formula that is more abrasive than other toothpastes. It is good to use them once in a while, but prolonged use can result in tooth sensitivity

The most effective over-the-counter whitening products are strips and trays. Whitening strips are applied directly to the teeth, usually overnight. They stick to the surface of enamel and dissolve over time. Crest White Strips are one brand that we’ve recommended for many years. Take-home trays work similarly. After finding or creating a tray that fits comfortably to your mouth, add whitening gel to the tray and wear it overnight. We offer a take-home kit from Ultradent that uses a stock tray to fit any mouth with a carbamide peroxide gel of 10% concentration. When choosing a product, be careful not to choose too high of a concentration or you may damage your gums.