Dr. Michael C. Hattaway
Family Dentistry

1317 Central Drive
Sanford, NC 27330

PO Box 2517
Sanford, NC 27331

Phone: (919) 775-2522
Fax: (919) 774-5639
lisa_hattaway@windstream.net frontdesk_hattaway@windstream.net

Cosmetic Bleaching

white smile

Tooth whitening is one of the easiest procedures that can be done to improve the appearance of a smile.  Today, tooth whitening if a safe and long-lasting way to achieve a brighter smile.

Teeth become darker with age and exposure to substances such as coffee, tea, and tobacco.  Other stains may be caused by exposure to a drug called tetracycline or to excess fluoride during early stages of tooth development.  Tetracycline stains are gray stains that can be lightened but results are unpredictable and the whitening process may take longer. 

At-home whitening systems are a popular way to achieve a whiter smile.  First, an impression is taken of the teeth to create a custom bleaching tray.  When you receive the bleaching tray, you will also receive the whitening gel and specific instructions on how to use the system.  This system usually takes 10 to 14 days to complete but some patients may begin to notice results right away. 

Is bleaching safe?

Yes.  The active ingredient in the whitening systems is carbamide peroxide which is similar to hydrogen peroxide.  The whitening process does not harm existing enamel, tooth structure, bonding, or restorations.  However, whitening agents will not lighten bonding or tooth-colored fillings, only the teeth around them (natural tooth structure).  For some people, teeth may become sensitive during the first 10 to 14 days of treatment with whitening gel.  However, the sensitivity is usually temporary and will lessen after treatment is completed.  Some people may have slight gum irritation from small amounts of the whitening gel coming in contact with tissue. 

How long will it last?

After reaching your desired shade, whiter, brighter teeth can last for years before you require a touch-up.  This depends on personal habits.  Smoking and drinking coffee, tea and dark sodas can darken teeth sooner and may require frequent whitening.  These touch-ups are done by wearing your bleaching trays again with the whitening gel applied until you reach your desired shade again.  Twice-daily brushing, daily flossing and regular dental cleanings will help keep teeth bright.  Some stains such as staining from cigarettes, coffee, tea, and dark sodas remain on the surface of the teeth and need to be cleaned professionally. 

Whitening toothpastes

There are a variety of whitening toothpastes.  These toothpastes rely on chemical or abrasive agents to remove stains from the surface of the teeth.  Since the active whitening ingredient is not exposed to the tooth surface for a long period of time, toothpastes are less effective for significant whitening.