How are teeth whitened?

Teeth whitening performed in a dentist’s office usually takes 30 to 90 minutes, and you will need one to three appointments, depending upon the method used, how severe your stains are, and how white you want your teeth to be. Different types of stains respond differently to the treatment.

First, your dentist will apply a substance that covers and protects the gums around the teeth. Then, the whitening agent, usually hydrogen peroxide, will be placed on the teeth.

After the whitening agent is applied, the dentist will activate the whitening agent with a laser light. If your teeth are badly discolored, your dentist may suggest that you continue the bleaching process at home for a few days or weeks.

For teeth whitening done at home, your dentist will first make impressions of your upper and lower teeth and will make custom mouthpieces for you. The mouthpiece should fit well, as a close fit helps the whitening agent remain in contact with your teeth.

At home, you will fill each mouthpiece with a whitening gel your dentist provides. You will wear the mouthpiece for several hours every day. Many people achieve the amount of whitening they want within a week or two. However, you may need to wear the mouthpiece for a few weeks or longer.

You also can buy whitening products over-the-counter. They contain a weaker whitening agent than the products you can get from your dentist, and as a result, whitening will take longer. The whitening agent is applied as a gel placed in a mouthpiece or as a strip that sticks to your teeth. Over-the-counter mouthpieces fit less securely than the kind you get from your dentist.

Whitening toothpastes are available as well. They contain abrasives that remove stains on the enamel, and do not actually change the overall color of your teeth.

Continue Learning about Teeth Whitening

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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.