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Smiling with Confidence through Tooth Whitening

Have you ever wondered how you can improve your smile?  Our smile communicates warmth and friendliness.  A beautiful smile can give us confidence, help us feel happy and even make us more successful!  An easy step to smiling with confidence is to have your teeth professionally whitened.

The first step to tooth whitening is to have the dentist examine your teeth to ensure that you are a whitening candidate. Your teeth need to be professionally cleaned to remove stains, tartar and plaque so that the solution will be able to penetrate your enamel. Deep cavities must be filled prior to whitening and any tooth sensitivity must be addressed before treatment begins. Without dental care, whitening solutions can be ineffective and even painful. That is one reason why it is not a good idea to buy whitening trays or solutions from a non-professional.  

The two most common techniques used by dentists for tooth whitening are “at home” whitening trays and “in- office” whitening.

The “at home” whitening technique at the dental office involves having impressions taken of your upper and lower teeth. Special plastic trays are then fabricated to fit your mouth. Unlike whitening strips and pre-fabricated products, these custom trays conform to your teeth so that whitening solution does not get on your gums to cause irritation or burning.

When you return to the office, your trays will be delivered.  The dentist will record your current tooth shade and will discuss the strength of the solution that is best for you. Some people are not able to tolerate strong whitening gel due to sensitivity issues; that is why different strengths of solution are available at the dental office. The dentist will also ask you when you would like to whiten your teeth. Would you rather whiten for a short time during the day or at night-time while you sleep? Again, this helps the dentist know which solution is right for you.

A dental staff member will then discuss the “do’s and don’ts” of whitening at home.  These include cessation of smoking. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking all leave stains on teeth and negate the whitening process. For the same reason, it is best to drink colored liquids such as coffee, tea, red wine, and purple grape juice through a straw while whitening your teeth.

You will then be shown how to apply the whitening solution. You will also be given instructions on how long to use the trays. Most whitening trays need to be used for a period of two to three weeks to get the results you want. You will need to call the office if you have any pain from wearing your trays.

“In-office” or “chair-side” whitening is the other common procedure performed at the dental office.  First, your teeth will be cleaned with a special polish paste. Then, a “rubber dam” material will be used to isolate your teeth from your gums ( the whitening gel is very strong and can burn tissue if it gets on lips or gums).  Then the gel is applied to your teeth and you may have to sit under a special light to activate the whitening solution. It usually takes 30 to 90 minutes to complete your first  treatment.  With “chair-side” whitening, you will need to return to the office for two more treatments and/or use home whitening trays to boost the whitening process.  It is usually more expensive to get “in-office” whitening than just home whitening trays because of the chair time involved.

With either whitening process, it is necessary to return to the dentist for follow-up. Old fillings and porcelain crowns will not change color and may need to be replaced to match your new shade.  Over time, you will probably need to do “touch-ups” after your routine dental cleanings to maintain your whitened teeth.

So, why not treat yourself to the whiter, brighter smile you have always wanted? Tooth whitening can help you get there.  Your smile is the gateway to your soul when you smile with confidence!

Dr. Amy Golden graduate of University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Her general and cosmetic dental practice is located close by in Berlin, New Jersey. For more information, call #856-768-3332 or go to her web site at

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