Smiling Couple on GrassWhitening, or bleaching, is a way to lighten teeth without bonding material to the teeth or removing any sound tooth structure. In this respect, it’s one of the most conservative cosmetic procedures we have. Here’s how it works.

How does whitening work?

Typically for in-office appointments, we’ll fit your mouth with a special mouthpiece filled with a whitening solution. Then, a special frequency of light is shown into your mouth to activate the solution, which penetrates the dentin of your teeth to lighten their color.

There are also at-home treatments available that incorporate custom made trays to be worn at night or during daily sessions. After three to five sessions, the teeth really start to show a difference.

Does it work for everyone?

The success of the procedure depends in part on what caused tooth staining in the first place. Surface coffee, tea, and tobacco stains that resist cleaning can be bleached away (the stains will reappear over time if you continue to indulge, of course). Antibiotic staining—from tetracycline, for example—is a bit harder to treat with simple bleaching. Alternatively, a jacket or porcelain veneer may be called for. The idea is to be very selective about which tooth is a good candidate for the procedure.

When you come in, we’ll show you our collection of “mug shots”—before and after photos of our patients who’ve been treated. They’re still smiling.