Whitening and Dental Veneers


One of the most popular elective procedures in dentistry today is tooth whitening. Over time, teeth tend to stain due to certain drinks (coffee, tea, or dark sodas) and especially due to smoking. Tooth whitening can help to eliminate the buildup of these stains on the surface of your teeth.

Whitening can be completed in several ways:

  • Over the counter whitening products – Many options are available to whiten teeth in the drugstores, from whitening toothpastes to gels to strips. These items tend to have a low concentration of bleach or hydrogen peroxide present to gradually lighten dark teeth. Many of these products can be highly effective but require a certain degree of dedication, due to lengthier time frames to achieve results. Typical regimens are one hour daily for 4–6 weeks.
  • Take home bleaching trays – This is an option that your dentist can provide, in which impressions are made of your mouth to carefully construct molds over your teeth where bleaching gels are placed and then inserted. The bleaching material that your dentist can provide to you is at a greater strength or concentration than allowed in over the counter products. The results available through take home trays are visible faster and with less time involved from you. Trays are available to you for long term use to "touch up" your whitening level. Replacement bleaching gels are generally available at a minimal cost. Typical regimens are one hour daily for about 2 weeks or until your desired level of whitening is achieved.
  • In Office Bleaching – This option allows for rapid whitening of the teeth in a dentist's office in one to two visits. A barrier is placed over the gums to prevent this high concentration of bleach from burning you. This procedure may be completed with or without a special light for enhanced speed of activation for the bleach, such as a ZOOM whitening system. A dental professional should provide this service to you to reduce the risk of injury that can occur, since a certain level of dental knowledge is required to know how to best protect a patient from the chemicals used. This procedure can be completed in a little over an hour and can lighten your teeth between 6–8 shades.

Some patients may notice sensitivity when whitening their teeth. These patients should consult a dental professional about this. Many of the products that are available for bleaching through a dental office can be provided with desensitizers to minimize this side effect. Occasionally, a patient may be unable to whiten due to extreme sensitivity.

Certain types of stains present in a tooth may not be able to be removed through bleaching. Gray stains are particularly hard to remove, especially when due to childhood staining from antibiotics, known as tetracycline staining. Also, teeth that have had trauma can darken extensively and may not be able to be bleached properly. Teeth with these whitening problems may require another dental procedure, such as a veneer or crown, to hide their dark color.

Teeth with crowns or veneers or that have been bonded with white fillings are unable to whiten with bleaching. Care is taken to ensure that bleaching will either be made to lighten just to the shade of the crowns or bonding present, or a treatment plan may be made that includes replacement of these restorations.

Our office regularly makes bleaching trays for patients and we offer the newest procedures for in-office whitening, utilizing the ZOOM!2 system. Call our office for a consult today to obtain a brighter smile.

Dental Veneers

A secondary option for enhanced tooth whiteness or an improved appearance is through the use of dental veneers. A veneer is a thin porcelain covering that is made to reshape teeth, realign crooked teeth or provide a color for a tooth that is not otherwise possible through bleaching. Many celebrities seen today, from actors to politicians, have veneers placed to reach a level of whiteness that is not possible through standard bleaching.

Veneers generally take two appointments to complete.

Appointment #1: At the first appointment, a thin layer of the surface of the tooth is removed to either reshape the tooth or to allow room for the veneer to sit on the tooth without causing the teeth to look bulky. An impression is made for a laboratory technician to use to custom fabricate your dental veneer. A temporary veneer is then placed on the teeth while the permanent veneer is being made. This appointment takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Appointment #2: At your second appointment, the temporary veneers are removed and your permanent veneers are evaluated. If proper fit and color has been achieved, they will then be placed with permanent cement. This visit takes about 30–60 minutes to complete.

** It may be recommended that between 6–8 veneers be placed on the top and 6–8 veneers on the bottom, depending on the results desired. **