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Information for Home and In-Office Tooth Whitening

   Prescription home bleaching and in-office “power” bleaching are effective treatments for whitening teeth by reducing many intrinsic (internal) dental stains. Significant lightening can be achieved in the majority of cases, but the results cannot be guaranteed. Like any other treatment, it has some inherent risks and limitations. These are seldom serious enough to discourage you from having your teeth bleached, but should be considered when deciding to have the treatment. The active ingredient is carbamide peroxide. If you are aware of any allergy to this ingredient, please let us know.

I. Candidates for Teeth Whitening

    Almost anyone (with permanent teeth) is a candidate for teeth whitening. However, dark yellow or yellow-brown teeth tend to whiten better than gray or bluish-gray teeth. Multi-colored teeth, especially if stained due to tetracycline, do not whiten very well. Teeth with many fillings, cavities, chips, etc., are usually best treated by porcelain veneers or crowns. If you have TMJ dysfunction or think you may have difficulty holding your mouth open for an hour, we recommend that you do not have in-office whitening treatment (and use the home whitening system instead). If you are pregnant, or a heavy smoker, we recommend that you do not have whitening treatment.


II. Types of Teeth Whitening

    A. In-office Whitening

      This process may be done in one visit or may require multiple visits, depending on how your teeth respond to the whitening gel. Each appointment takes about one hour. Gum protection is applied, the whitening gel is applied and a special light is used to enhance the bleach. The advantages of power whitening include our doing all the work for you, with usually a significant result in a very short amount of time. The disadvantages include the normal inconveniences of any dental treatment, such as having to keep your mouth open for the duration of the appointment and the increased cost as compared to home whitening.  In addition, most patients must continue bleaching with a home-bleaching treatment in order to achieve the desired result.

    B. Take-home Whitening

      This process involves wearing a custom-made bleaching tray (made from a thin, transparent medical-grade plastic material) in which a tiny amount of bleaching agent is placed. You wear the bleaching gel/tray as directed, depending on the particular formulation and strength of the bleaching gel. The length of time worn can be adapted to your lifestyle and sensitivity level. The advantages of home whitening include performing the treatment when it is convenient for you, with probably lower cost. The disadvantage to home bleaching is that the success of the treatment is dependent on your commitment to wearing the whitening tray routinely for the period prescribed. It is important to follow the specific directions given regarding the placement of the gel in the tray and the length of time worn. Only a tiny amount of gel is needed—more will not cause bleaching to occur faster and will only waste the gel.


III. Your Responsibilities

    A. Wearing your Whitening Tray

      If you choose home whitening, it will only be effective if you conscientiously wear the tray for the prescribed amount of time per day.

    B. Communication

      If you experience any severe discomfort or other problems, contact us immediately.


IV. Potential Problems

    A. Tooth Sensitivity

      Following whitening, some patients experience transient sensitivity, which is usually mild if the teeth are not normally sensitive. With power whitening, this sensitivity will usually subside in 1-2 days. With home whitening, it may be necessary for you to reduce the amount of time or how often you are wearing the bleaching tray, or stop using it for a short time to resolve the sensitivity. If your teeth are normally sensitive, whitening may make your teeth more sensitive for an extended period of time. It is possible for the sensitivity to be severe enough to require discontinuation of either treatment before the prescribed length of time. No refunds or credits will be given for the whitening treatment, regardless of the result.

    B. Gum Irritation

      This is the result of a small amount of the bleaching solution leaking under the dental dam or the home whitening tray. A burning sensation on your gums may also occur. This will resolve by itself in a few hours to a couple of days. With home whitening, it may be necessary for you to reduce the amount of time you wear the tray or stop using it for a short time to resolve the gum irritation.

    C. Effect on Existing or Future Restorations

      Be aware that if you have bonded (composite resin) fillings or porcelain crowns, these will remain the same color as the natural teeth lighten. Replacement of these restorations may be necessary if they show in your smile, which is not included in the fee for the bleaching. The bleaching process does not weaken any existing restorations. However, the bond strength to enamel of bonding materials is temporarily weakened by the bleaching process, so it is necessary to wait 2 weeks after completion of bleaching prior to any bonding procedure (delivery of veneers, tooth-colored fillings, etc.)

    D. Safety

      Tooth bleaching solutions have been in wide use now for over 20 years, with few reports of pulpal (tooth nerve tissue) problems. One study involved patients with severe tetracycline stains, who bleached their teeth for 6 months, with no problems. Although the extent of risk is small, acceptance of treatment means acceptance of risk.


V. Completion of Treatment

    A. Level of Lightening

      The result of teeth bleaching is not completely predictable. With in-office whitening, one session can significantly whiten the teeth. Some patients require an additional session. Home whitening may take two to four weeks or longer. Not all tooth discolorations can be bleached with equal success, therefore, no guarantees are made regarding the amount of lightening that will be achieved. It is possible that you may be dissatisfied with the amount of lightening achieved. No refunds or credits will be given for the whitening treatment, regardless of the result.

    B. Relapse

      The whitening obtained with bleaching treatment lasts in varying amounts with different patients. There is no way to anticipate how much effect your teeth will retain. Following completion of whitening, pigments in food and drinks will re-stain your teeth, commonly called “bleaching relapse.” After home whitening, you may wish to wear your trays with bleaching gel once every few months. We have touch-up kits available for purchase.


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Below are some of the communities in the New Orleans area proudly served by the dentists and staff at New Orleans Dental Center :

New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, Harahan, River Ridge, Chalmette, Arabi, Meraux and all the communities of Orleans, Jefferson and Saint Bernard Parishes.
Algiers, Avondale, Barataria, Belle Chasse, Boothville, Braithwaite, Bridge City, Buras, Crown Point, Devant, Empire, Gretna, Harvey, Jean Lafitte, Jesuit Bend, Lafitte, Marrero, Nairn, Pilottown, Point A La Hache, Port Sulphur, Terrytown, Waggaman, West Pointe A La Hache, Westwego and all the communities of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.
River Parishes: Boutte, Des Allemands, Destrahan, Good Hope, Hahnvlle, Luling, New Sarpy, Paradis, St. Rose and all the communities of St. Charles, St. John and Ascension Parishes.


New Orleans Dental Center
1901 Manhattan Blvd., Suite F-201
Harvey, LA 70058
Phone: (504) 347-6000 ~ Fax: (504) 367-6232

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