Family Dentistry • 279 Main Street • Williamstown, MA 01267

Tooth Whitening

General Information Regarding Tooth Whitening (“Bleaching”)
Bleaching is the most conservative and least expensive procedure available to whiten live, stained teeth.  Bleaching healthy teeth that are discolored is an effective procedure, but you should have this important information before deciding to complete a whitening procedure.
  • Your teeth must be healthy, with no active decay (cavities) on the front of the teeth.
  • Slight to moderate tooth discolorations can usually be lightened successfully; if discoloration is severe, crowns or veneers are usually a more predictable treatment to lighten tooth color.
  • Non-vital teeth, those which have had root canal treatment, or are dead from trauma, require a separate bleaching process.
  • Whitening is not a totally predictable process; some teeth respond better than others. The younger teeth are, the better they whiten.  Yellow teeth respond better than gray teeth.  The only way to determine the bleaching potential of your teeth is to complete the procedure and evaluate the results. 
  • Your bleached teeth may require re-treatment occasionally to maintain the new, lighter shade.  This maintenance can often be done with professionally provided at home kits; for other cases,a repeat session of in office power whitening might be necessary.  Time intervals for touchups varies for each individual, assessed annually.
  • Teeth with porcelain crowns or veneers will not change shade
  • Old ‘white fillings’ will not change shade and may need to be replaced to match the new shade of your smile.
Potential Side Effects
  • Tooth Sensitivity – This is the most common side effect of whitening.  If teeth become sensitive to thermal changes, most often to cold for more than a few days, a fluoride gel can be applied, and/or a take home dental cream.  The products Dr. Lartin uses, Opalescence BOOST, contains a desensitizing agent, which generally protects against this side effect.
  • Gum or Lip Tenderness – Occasionally, areas can become irritated if the reagents come in contact with the gums, lips or cheeks; if this happens a harmless, mild sloughing of the superficial layer of the skin occurs;  you will be given a soothing rinse and monitored for full recovery.
After The Whitening Procedure
  • Immediately after the whitening procedure, your teeth will be at their lightest shade, which will rebound a little bit within 24 hours.  This is normal, as the teeth look a bit ‘chalky’ from being dry during the procedure.
  • You may require more than one full whitening procedure to achieve a very light shade, but as mentioned above, some teeth lighten more than others, there may be limitations.
  • To maintain the shade obtained in your session, you must avoid dark colored foods, especially red foods and drinks, such as wine or fruit juice or beets, also tomato products, coffee, tea, cocoa for at least 48 hours.
Available Methods to Whiten Teeth are:
In Office Whitening, or “Power Bleaching”
  • Power Whitening is done at the dental office.  Each session takes a little more than one hour.  Dr. Lartin uses a product called “Opalescence Boost”, made in the USA by the Ultradent Company.  Your lips and gums will be protected with appropriate barriers, then  Opalescence BOOST Whitening is applied.  BOOST contains concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel to whiten, and potassium nitrate to buffer and fluoride to protect teeth.  After 15-20 minutes, the reagent is removed and results assessed.  If desired, a second application is placed for another 15 minutes.  No light is used with this system.If more whitening is desired, a second appointment can be scheduled a few days later.  Each visit is a separate charge, multiple applications within the visit are all inclusive.
At Home Whitening
  • Bleaching at home is an alternative, less expensive, option you might consider.  At home whitening can be done one of two ways:
  • Pre-filled whitening trays are provided for you to wear at home, for 30-60 minutes at one time.    You will receive a “Six-Pack” of  “Opalescence GO”, which allows for six days of treatment.  If results are not as light as desired, you may purchase an additional “Six-Pack”. At home whitening is the most cost effective method to whiten – it is very similar to over-the-counter whiteners available at drug stores, but the trays are easy to fit and have buffered solutions to minimize sensitivity.   Opalescence GO is also used as a home maintenance system for patients electing to have in office power bleaching first.
  • Custom trays made to fit your mouth, are provided for you to wear at home.   Opalescence gel  dispensing syringes are used to place the whitening gel into the trays.  These trays are typically worn for one half hour per day, for up to fourteen days or to desired shade.    This is the more costly method for at home use, but offers control and allows for simply touchups.
After Whitening
  • Immediately after the whitening appointment, your teeth will be lighter than they will be 24 hours later, due to dehydration during the whitening.  They will rebound a bit to a shade lighter than before the treatment, but a bit darker than immediately after treatment.  This is normal.
  • Some people may require more than on in-office whitening appointment, depending on initial shade and desired amount of shade.  Remember, all teeth lighten differently and predictability is inherently limited.
  • Some people develop sensitivity to cold after whitening, and it will return to normal.  The products you receive from us are all buffered for sensitivity, and our patients have generally have not reported any sensitivity.
  • As teeth age and are continually exposed to staining foods, they will darken again; follow – up whitening, often at home, sometimes in- office will be needed to maintain your smile.  Maintenance schedules vary by individual; one person may need whitening once per decade, another, every few years.