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Patient Services

The Truth about Teeth Whitening

Nearly all dental offices offer teeth whitening or teeth bleaching options. We are no different. The purpose of this page is to explain our philosophy and to go over the different menu options available at Thornton Park Dental Arts.

Over the years countless patients have asked me if they should whiten their teeth. Other dentists and dental offices typically respond with an emphatic “YES”!!! I am a bit more hesitant. My reason is that whether teeth will lighten or whiten to a patient’s satisfaction is beyond my control. So if you pay us good money to whiten your teeth I do not want to disappoint you or any of my patients. In almost every other instance we are capable of producing a beautiful result. If you asked me to restore a smile, place an implant, remove a tooth, fix a cracked tooth, or clean your teeth- you will get what you want. Unfortunately, whitening teeth isn’t so predictable.

Does this mean you shouldn’t consider whitening your teeth? Absolutely you should! True, whitening is unpredictable but most patients are very happy with their results. Here are some well known celebrities before and after they improved and their smiles. The impact of beautiful white teeth can be nothing short of amazing.

How does it work?

Dentists do not actually “bleach” teeth. There is no bleach involved. The vast majority of products which whiten teeth have either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide in a gel form. Carbamide peroxide will break down into hydrogen peroxide and urea. A 10% carbamide peroxide product will break down to approximately 3.5% hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is the actual ingredient that removes stains from the enamel or outer surface of teeth.

The concentration or percentage of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide will vary from product to product. Manufacturers will sometimes add desensitizers and make gels different viscosities. It isn’t rocket science. The higher the concentration the faster your teeth whiten. But you are also at a higher risk of tooth sensitivity. This is why we have so many options. Some people cannot handle a high concentration for too long while others seem unaffected.

What Works?

Anything with carbamide or hydrogen peroxide will work. There are countless makers of these products with claims that one is better than the other. The metaphor I always use is that whitening gels are like gas. If you filled up at BP, Shell, Wawa, or Costco the gas they sell will power your car. It really makes little difference. The reason we use particular products at Thornton Park Dental Arts is due to the reputation of the companies, high ratings, and consistency.

Important to know

Years ago I read an article explaining that chairside or one hour whitening patient satisfaction was around 35%. It also explained that close to 85% of patients were happy with the results from customized trays that they wore over the course of two weeks. Think about that for a moment. Does the idea of buying something you had a 65% chance of not being happy about make any sense? Of course not.

This is why I feel you must understand what is a more ideal approach to whitening your teeth. If I was very serious about whitening my teeth I would combine in-office and custom trays together.

In office or Chairside options

ZOOM! Is the most popular chairside whitening product in the United States. It was originally developed by the same dentist who was on ABC’s Extreme Makeovers. He later sold his company to Philips – the same company that makes TVs and Sonicare toothbrushes.

What we like about ZOOM! Is that they have thought of everything. The whitening gel ‘s effect is said to be enhanced by a powerful UV light. Honestly, there is no science behind the use of the light but my assistant Kim has noticed a difference when we use the light so we use the light. What we also like about Zoom! is the fact that results are seen instantly versus results seen after weeks of tray wear.

The makers of ZOOM! do not want you to be sensitive so their kits and protocol include ways to minimize your sensitivity. They also do not want your gums to burn from the gel or UV light. The kits have something for that as well. Finally, they want you to be satisfied so they encourage custom trays to be made. The trays supplement and enhance the whitening effect. ZOOM! is great but it is also our most expensive option. With that said, most patients find it is worth the extra cost to have a whiter smile almost instantly.

We also have a product from a well respected Utah based company known as Ultradent. The 40% hydogen peroxide gel is no joke. There is no UV light and there aren’t as many bells and whistles so we charge less for this option. The name of the actual product is Opelescence Boost PF 40% or just Boost.

Both ZOOM! and Boost require 1-2 hours of your time. We need advanced notice to set aside a dental chair if this is something you are considering.

Custom Take Home Trays

Opalescence PF is the whitening gel we like. Before we give you the gel we take impressions of upper and lower teeth. We then make models of your teeth to fabricate customized trays to carry the whitening gel. Opalescence PF is made by Ultradent. They’ve thought a lot about your comfort and have added 20% water to keep your teeth from drying out. They also load the gel with potassium nitrate and fluoride. These additions are designed to prevent teeth sensitivity. Another benefit to the trays is you can put Sensodyne in the trays in the event of major sensitivity. Opalescnce PF comes in varying flavors and concentrations. It is very effective.

Opalescence Go is another great product from Ultradent. These are preloaded trays of Opalescence. I’ve personally used these and was quite surprised at how easy they were to use. There is no need to take impressions or make an appointment. Opalescence Go is super convenient and makes a great gift. It is also our least expensive method to whiten teeth. It comes in three flavors and a couple concentrations.

Toothpastes

There are countless toothpastes on the market claiming to whiten teeth. I’ll caution you from believing that the more abrasive ones work better. Really none of the more commonly known brands do much more than the regular toothpastes . I’ve seen patients over brush or abuse their teeth with these so called whitening toothpastes only to make their teeth darker. They have removed enamel which is the “white” outer shell of their teeth. If this sound like a horrible thing to do to your teeth it is because it is a horrible thing to do to your teeth.

Here at Thornton Park Dental Arts we sell an activated charcoal “toothpaste” called Magic Mud. Activated charcoal absorbs the stain on teeth. I was a skeptic when a dental school friend suggested it to me. I ordered a sample and tried it for myself. My teeth became lighter after a few uses. The issue with Magic Mud is that it makes a huge mess. My wife won’t let me use it in the house. You must also use it consistently. You cannot use it once and expect white teeth. Finally, you need ample time for each application or brushing. If you opt to buy the Magic Mud from us you will learn to floss and brush better than you ever have in your life. Otherwise you end up with blackness all over your teeth.

Hopefully most of your questions were answered here. We occasionally run promotions so the pricing fluctuates on what we offer. If you are interested in any of our teeth whitening choices please give us a call to get started.

As always – thank you for making us your dental office.