Do you know about teeth whitening?

Having bright pearly whites is something that most desire. Wouldn’t it be great if our teeth just stayed bright and white all of the time? Luckily for us, modern technology has developed some great options when it comes to having a brighter smile.

It is important to know that there is a difference between teeth whitening and teeth bleaching. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whitening restores natural tooth color and bleaching whitens beyond the natural color. Knowing the difference helps to understand the types of results you will get with each system.

Teeth Whitening

This is a microscopic view of the enamel of a tooth.

Your tooth has a few layers to it. On the inside is a layer of dentin that sends hot, cold and pressure signals to the nerve or core of the tooth. To protect the structure on the inside, the enamel layer covers the whole tooth with hydroxyapatite crystals that look like hexagonal “rods” under a microscope.  Simply put, the outside of the tooth is quiet porous.

It is easy for foreign material to build up on the outside of the tooth; this outside layer is called pellicle film. Dentists can clean away this film and brushing can even help to sweep away some of it. For the most part, the pellicle film sits on the teeth for a long period of time, leaving staining agents to find their way into the pours of the enamel. These deep stains are not harmful to the teeth, but many people find the stains unattractive. This is where teeth whitening or bleaching comes in to make the teeth whiter and brighter.

Teeth whiteners work by getting into the pours of the tooth and cause an oxidized chemical reaction to break up the staining compound.  Most tooth whiteners use one of two chemicals, carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. There are a number of ways to apply these to your teeth, let’s look at the options.

In-office or professional teeth whitening
Usually when you choose to whiten your teeth by a professional, your dentist will do a thorough evaluation of your oral health, including a check for absence of cavities and gum disease. After the evaluation, the dentist proceeds with a stronger hydrogen peroxide compound that needs supervision when being used. Because of the oxidizing properties of the peroxide, a protective “dam” layer is put onto your gums so they do not become dried out. Usually, an in-office teeth whitening only takes a few hours and you leave with immediate results.

Take home teeth whitening
This is different than over the counter whitening because a custom mouth piece is fitted to your teeth. You fill this mouth piece with small amount of peroxide or bleach at home and leave the mouth piece in for a few hours at a time. This is very convenient to brighten your smile whenever you need to.  You only have to have the mouth piece fitted once, and it tends to be less messy than other take home products. While effective, these usually take a couple of applications before you begin to see results.

Over the counter teeth whiteners-
This option is desired because it is immediately available and the cost is typically low. Although, it is always a great idea to check with your dentist before using any over the counter whitening options. They do not usually vary in strength and the strips or mouth pieces can be messy, cause sensitivity and dry out your gums. The results typically take a few weeks.

Teeth Whitening – Three Options to a Brighter Smile

Seriously, is there a better accessory to that glowing skin that we are all blessed with every summer than a perfectly white smile? I say no, but if you said “six-pack abs” I wouldn’t disagree.


Really though a perfectly white smile is attainable with the technology that is readily available to ordinary people, like you and me.  Celebrities, other rich guys and their trophy wives are no longer the only people that can enjoy teeth that are NOT stained by years of coffee, wine, and tobacco. You can, too!

There are three types of whitening that you should consider: in-office, professional teeth whitening, at-home whitening trays from the dentist, and teeth whitening strips.

Option 1: In-office teeth whitening. If you are getting ready for a photo shoot, a wedding, a vacation, or any other milestone event the only way to go is an in-office professional teeth whitening at the dentist. You are looking at a $500-$700 bill but the results are instant and will continue to get better over the course of the next two weeks.

Option 2: Take-Home Teeth Whitening Trays. Have an event coming up in a month that you are preparing for? I mean really preparing, like, have your outfit purchased, hair appointment made, car rental scheduled and guaranteed prepared. If so, then take-home bleach trays from the dentist are an awesome option. They come at a significantly lower cost than in-office bleaching and can be used for as long as you want, provided that your teeth don’t shift. Your dentist will make an impression of your teeth to create the trays and they should be ready within 24 hours. Your teeth will reach the maximum whiteness after approximately two weeks.

The bleach that you will use at home has a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide. You can purchase bleach from your dentist, dental assistant, or hygienist anytime that you want. Bleach trays are also a good idea for those who dropped a big payment on the in-office bleaching and who would like to maintain their white smile for years.

Option 3: Teeth Whitening strips.  Just want whiter teeth but are in no rush? Guess what? Those whitening strips work wonders at removing surface stains for anyone. Smoker? Coffee drinker? Wino? Soda pop lover? You are in luck! Whitening strips cost anywhere between $35-$50 for a two-to-four week supply. Read the instructions carefully for how long and frequently you should wear the strips. Some teeth whitening strips requiring wearing them two times a day for 14 days straight while others are less strict, and also less effective. Teeth whitening strips are also really effective at maintaining a white smile.

Who shouldn’t buy in to teeth whitening: those with veneers, tetracycline staining, or dead teeth. There is nothing any dentist can do to make your teeth whiter. See a dentist near you to visit your options.

No teeth whitening toothpaste or magic teeth whitening light will replace regular dental visits. One might be surprised at the amount of surface stains a simple teeth cleaning will remove.

Get your tan on, folks! And take along a white smile and some sunscreen.

Fix Yellow Teeth

Is professional teeth whitening for me?

It wasn’t long ago that professional teeth whitening or teeth bleaching seemed unattainable to regular people. We often speak to patients who are so embarrassed by their smile stained with layers of soda, coffee, and tobacco. Whether you choose for the more effective professional whitening or the whitening products at the pharmacy the real truth is that it works! Almost everyone can see substantial improvement from 4 to 8 shades whiter with this cosmetic treatment. You can find our latest teeth whitening special here.

Teeth Whitening Options

  • In-Office Teeth Whitening: the major benefit of in-office whitening is that in a short period of time you can see massive results. A typical visit lasts just 2 hours. Gums are painted with a rubber dam for protection against bleach and then the teeth are bleached in 20 minute intervals. All patients and their teeth are different. Some will require an additional visit or will be instructed to continue bleaching at home with a take-home whitening system from the dentist. A typical teeth whitening treatment costs $650, on average.
  •  Professional Take-Home Teeth Whitening Systems: Dentists can make custom bleaching trays for patients that resemble an athletic mouth guard. They are just as effective as in-office teeth bleaching but take longer to see results because they contain a lower concentration of peroxide. They can be purchased from your dentist for $100-$400.
  •  Over-the-counter whitening: The strips, one-size-fits-all trays, and bleaching pens that you purchase at the store are the most affordable and arguably the most convenient forms of whitening. They contain a lower concentration of peroxide than found in the take-home trays from the dentist. These methods usually only whiten the front teeth whereas the other options whiten all the teeth. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products cost between $20-$100.
Cosmetic Dentist Sacramento

Teeth Whitening Sacramento

Teeth Whitening Risks

Gum irritation, Technicolor teeth, and sensitivity are all a possible side effects of in-office teeth whitening. For in-office bleaching more than half of patients feel some sort of gum irritation. It can last up to a few days or until the bleach stops working. Technicolor teeth results from fillings, bridges, and veneers that do not change color during the bleaching process. They stay the same color while the surrounding natural teeth whiten. It is also likely that patients will experience sensitivity. This occurs most often during in-office bleaching because the potency of the bleach is much higher. Sensitivity usually last for a day but can last up to a month.

You should call your Sacramento Dentist for a consultation to see if you are a bleaching candidate as all patients and their teeth vary. The dentist will conduct a comprehensive examination and discuss hygiene with you to determine which method is for you. You may find more information about teeth whitening at