The Professional Teeth Whitening Procedure
Here are the basic steps of the professional tooth whitening procedure done at a dentist’s:
Examination and Screening
When you visit your dentist, tell him or her that you want your teeth professionally whitened. Before undertaking the procedure, the dentist would examine your teeth and gums. If you have a condition like gum disease or perhaps cavities, the dentist will recommend putting off the procedure until the serious conditions are addressed. Your dentist would also screen you for suitability. Laser teeth whitening is not recommended for pregnant women. The procedure is not typically performed on teenagers either. If you are under 18, your dentist may recommend waiting until you are a bit older to get the procedure. You should also have enough teeth enamel exposed to undergo the whitening procedure. If you have an uneven gum line, your teeth may not whiten evenly, resulting in a weird smile. Also, if your gums have receded exposing roots of teeth, your dentist may not recommend bleaching. Roots of teeth don’t respond to bleaching so only parts of your teeth would be whitened. Don’t panic if you don’t qualify for professional teeth whitening. There are other alternatives you can consider like dental veneers and lumineers. A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that can be pasted onto your teeth to change its color and shape. Lumineers are like veneers, but much thinner. Lumineers are suitable if your teeth are particularly sensitive. It’s rare for people to not qualify for the procedure. Unless you are pregnant or young, you should. Once you do qualify, the dentist would move onto the next step as described below.
Pre Treating Your Teeth
Before the laser whitening starts, your dentist would clean your teeth. Usually, a dental hygienist takes over this procedure. The hygienist would remove tartar and plague if any are left to prepare the enamel fully for the professional teeth whitening procedure. The dental hygienist would also check to make sure all your cavities are filled. There shouldn’t be damage to the enamel that would allow the bleaching agent to enter the inside of your teeth. In which case, the whitening solution will damage sensitive tissues and nerves.
Preparing for the Procedure
The professional tooth whitening procedure is not painful. You don’t need a local anesthetic, as you would when removing a tooth. However, in some patients, the laser whitening process can cause tooth sensitivity or perhaps some minor inflammation. Therefore, some dentists prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) before the procedure begins. You must inform the dentist if you are on any other prescription or over-the-counter medication before taking the NSAID. Inform the dentist of any allergies or sensitivities as well.
The Whitening Process
Once all of the steps above are complete, you can begin the tooth whitening process. The process is quite quick. You will be instructed to lie down on a dental chair. The dentist would use an oral guard to keep your mouth open and your teeth exposed. Before the process begins, the dentist would place a protective barrier over your gums. This would prevent the laser or the whitening agent touching the gums. Afterwards, the dentist would apply a gel-like whitening solution onto the enamel on the front side of teeth. This is usually done using a syringe. The whitening agent would stay on the teeth. Then, the dentist would use the laser. The laser light activates the whitening agent and may cause it to foam. The laser causes the whitening agent to release oxygen ions that remove stains on enamel. The laser may stay on up to 15 minutes for the chemical process to take effect. The dentist would turn the laser off and then may allow the whitening agent to stay on your teeth for few minutes longer. The final stage involves removing the whitening agent. Dentists mostly use a tiny vacuuming device to quickly and efficiently remove the stained whitening agent without damaging teeth or gums. You will then be instructed to rinse your mouth. When the dentist removes the gum guard, the procedure would be over. Overall, the entire procedure typically takes between an hour or two. So it’s quick and you won’t have to wait long.
After the Treatment
Your dentist would examine your teeth once last time before you leave. You may experience elevated tooth sensitivity following the whitening procedure. Mild to moderate sensitivity is normal. But some patients may report high levels of sensitivity. The dentist would prescribe medication if the sensitivity levels are high. At this point, your gums should feel normal. If you feel any soreness or notice any whiteness in your gums, tell the dentist right away. Complications from professional dental whitening are very rare. You will be ready to be on your way if everything goes right. The dentist will tell you how to eat and protect your teeth following the procedure. You can also schedule a follow-up appointment just in case, but it may not be necessary.