Are your teeth stained from coffee, tea, cigarettes, medication, or just general wear and tear that occurs from aging? If so, you might have considered investing in a teeth whitening procedure that can brighten your smile, make your teeth appear healthier, and improve your self-esteem. While at-home whitening kits can get you quick results, you will find much more thorough and long lasting results from a professional whitening job at the dentist.

Is there any preparation involved?

You might be asked to refrain from eating certain foods or drinking certain beverages before your whitening procedure in order to maximize the results. You may need to have a thorough teeth cleaning done before the whitening.

What does the process entail?

The actual whitening process is very simple. Your dentist will apply a substance to your gums that will keep them from getting bleached during the procedure, and then apply a special gel to your teeth that is activated by light. The procedure is not painful. Once your session is over, the gel will be removed and you will be able to see nearly instant results. As the days go by, you might notice that your teeth become even whiter. Depending on the extent of your stains and discoloration, your dentist might suggest a few more sessions to get the whitest results possible. You will have the best results if you take care of your teeth following the procedure, and try your best to avoid foods, drinks, or tobacco products that can cause stains.

Who shouldn’t get their teeth whitened?

Although the whitening process is fairly straightforward with little to no risks involved, there are some situations that you should talk to your doctor about before continuing. If you have cavities or other dental issues, you may need to get them fixed before a whitening session. Receding gums and extreme sensitivity can also make whitening a challenge, and whitening does not work on crowns or veneers. Finally, if you are pregnant, you will need to talk with your dentist about whether or not the procedure can be performed at this time or if you should wait until after your pregnancy is over.

During an initial consultation, your dentist will be able to help you decide if in-office whitening is something that you could benefit from, and what your realistic expectations about the procedure should be.