How do I find a good dentist for professional teeth whitening?

Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
If you decide to have your smile professionally whitened, make sure you choose a reputable aesthetic dentist. Like any kind of treatment, it's vital that you know you're in capable hands. Getting an in-office whitening by a dentist who filled in your cavities two decades ago and has remained in that era ever since is not the person to go to for state-of-the-art whitening. Try to find a dentist who specializes in aesthetic or cosmetic dentistry. When you meet with him, ask what kind of system is used. Look for the names that I mentioned, like Zoom, Den-Mat or Lumalight. Ask who's going to do the procedure. It should be either the dentist or the hygienist. If it's the hygienist, ask how he was trained and how long he's been performing the procedure. Ask how many patients' teeth he's whitened. If the dentist isn't doing it himself, he should at the very least be overseeing it, checking in on you and your progress every 30 minutes or so.
Most dentists do an excellent job with professional teeth whitening. Most dentists do cosmetic dentistry or aesthetic dentistry. (Cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized specialty by the ADA. Great cosmetic dentists do spend many hours with continuing education and have extensive training in the field.) The key is to find exactly what system is used for bleaching (take home system, in-office whitening, power bleaching, etc.) Name brand systems are good, but there are plenty of systems out there with the same active ingredients. Most un-biased research out there shows not too much difference in the systems: ( Regardless, the dentist should be quite involved in checking how the bleaching is applied, apply the active ingredient him/herself, evaluate if teeth and gums are properly isolated, etc. Furthermore, ask the dentist if he/she has pre- or post-op pictures of actual cases used in the office.
Usually the search a good dentist for professional whitening services will involve the same questions as the search for a good dentist for your overall dental care. When discussing tooth whitening, you should note whether the dentist has examined your mouth, teeth and gums prior to discussion of benefits and risks of whitening of teeth. The reason for this is that before whitening defective fillings may have to be replaced, gums should be in good health and mouth should generally be healthy. Therefore, treatment may be indicated prior to whitening of the teeth, and this will add to the total cost.

Finding a dentist with whom you are comfortable and who provides quality care can often be a challenge; however, the vast majority of dentists care very much about quality and the comfort of their patients. That being said, in addition to finding a dentist who performs treatment with care, skill and good judgment, patients often select a dentist based on specific personality traits.

Among the ways to find a good dentist are:
  • Ask friends and relatives
  • Talk to people who have been in the community for several years
  • Contact the local dental society
  • Ask your physician 
  • Speak with dental specialists in your area
You may have to call various offices to ask about the practice, and you may even have to set up several consultations. While this may involve some time, and maybe money, it may help in your selection.

Also, once you have selected dentist, observe that he or she is concerned about establishing overall good oral health and getting to know your dental needs and wants. This will certainly help you decide if the treatment philosophy is right for you. 

Continue Learning about Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening Tips and Secrets
Teeth Whitening Tips and Secrets
Do you want a dazzling, movie-star smile but you're not sure how to go about getting it? Are you curious to know how over-the-counter (OTC) teeth-whit...
Read More
How can I whiten my teeth if I have stains on them?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Safe whitening options vary in price and how well they work: Chairside bleaching or "power bleach...
More Answers
What are the disadvantages of using whitening toothpaste?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
Stronger whitening toothpastes use abrasion to remove the outer layer of teeth and reveal a newe...
More Answers
Are There Natural Ways to Whiten My Teeth?
Are There Natural Ways to Whiten My Teeth?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.