Frequently Asked Questions About Tooth Whitening

How long should I wear the trays?

This depends on the amount of lightening that you desire and the original shade of the teeth. If your teeth are quite dark or very yellow/grey/tetracycline stained, it will take longer to whiten the teeth. If you are not experiencing any sensitivity you may wear the trays for at least 1-2 hours and even sleep with the trays in your mouth. It is very important to remove all the excess material around the gums or the palate prior to sleeping with the trays.

The darker your teeth, the longer your teeth will take to get lighter. Tetracycline-stained teeth can take 6 months to one year to whiten the teeth. Some teeth can whiten after one month.

If you cannot wear the trays for a few days because of your hectic schedule, it does not matter. Whiten your teeth according to your own schedule. Some people put the trays in after dinner and wear them for the first hour while watching TV or doing the dishes. Then if everything is fine they replenish the trays and sleep with them in the mouth.

What do I do if I have any sensitivity?

Sensitivity of teeth is the most common side effect of whitening treatment. In fact many patients suffer from sensitive teeth anyway. This usually occurs around the necks of the teeth. Patients can experience some degree of sensitivity, which ranges from mild awareness to a throb on a specific tooth. Up to 50% of patients suffer with some sensitivity.

If you are experiencing sensitivity during your whitening treatment these are the different treatments you should follow.

  • We will provide you with a desensitizing material called Soothe or Tooth Mousse to place in your bleaching trays. This should be placed in the trays in exactly the same way that the whitening material is placed. You should alternate each night, one night with the Soothe and the following night with the whitening material, or you can apply it onto the tray for one hour per night. This should be continued until the sensitivity disappears. Tooth Mousse can also be rubbed onto the individual tooth that is sensitive
  • You can also use desensitizing toothpaste such as Colgate pro-relief or Sensodyne. You can also brush with the desensitizing toothpaste during the whitening treatment. Place a small amount of the toothpaste on your finger and rub it into the sensitive area. You should repeat this each night until the sensitivity disappears.
  • Rinsing with Fluorigard mouth rinse after the whitening procedure can also help.

You can stop the whitening for one night if the sensitivity is too severe. Do not stop for more than 3-4 nights; otherwise, the effect of the whitening will slow down. Sometimes the gums may also feel a little sensitive. If you notice the gums are feeling sore, you need to refrain from bleaching for one day or reduce the concentration of the whitening gel. Please contact us if the sensitivity persists

What happens if the teeth do not whiten evenly?

If the teeth have white spots on them before whitening, these spots will appear whiter during the first few days; however, the contrast between the spots and the rest of the tooth will be less and eventually they will not be noticeable. Sometimes the dentist can do a special procedure called micro abrasion and resin infiltration for you where the effect of the white spots can be reduced. Ask your dentist about the procedure if you are concerned about this.

You may notice new white spots occurring on the teeth while you are undertaking the whitening treatment. These white spots were already present on the teeth before whitening. As the teeth become lighter they become more visible. Do not worry. As the whole tooth itself becomes lighter these spots will fade. You may notice these white spots immediately after a whitening session or in the morning if you have been wearing the trays for the whole night.

Some teeth may appear banded with lighter/whiter areas. Again these bandings are originally present on the tooth. As the tooth is dark these bandings are not obvious. As the tooth becomes lighter, the lighter parts of the tooth will lighten first followed by the darker banded area. After a week or so these should not be noticeable anymore.

What about my smile?

Your smile will appear brighter as a bonus. It is very rare, but sometimes the teeth do not lighten at all. If this happens and you are wearing the whitening trays as recommended, you may need to try a different whitening product or a slightly higher concentration of the whitening material. The dentist can do a few “power bleaching sessions” for you while you relax in the chair. Discuss this with your dentist.

If you have white fillings or laboratory made restorations in the front teeth that match the existing shade of your teeth before you whiten your teeth, they may not match the teeth afterwards. This is because your teeth can lighten, but the restorations ( crowns, fillings, veneers etc) do not, lighten. When the desired colour has been achieved, the dentist can replace these restorations with a lighter shade of filling material to match the new shade of your teeth. Normally the dentist will wait 3-4 weeks before changing the fillings or laboratory made restorations.

It is normal to see dark colour in the trays where you have old (silver) fillings. The gel oxidizes the surface stains on the amalgam fillings. The area of the tooth closest to the gums may take longer to lighten than the biting edge. It will also remain the darkest part of the tooth.

How long does the whitening last? Will I have to whiten my teeth again?

Normally the new white colour of your teeth keeps quite well. The effect is dependent on what has caused the teeth to discolour in the first place. If you drink lots of coffee, red wine, or cola drinks the effect may darken slightly.

Does whitening harm the teeth or gums?

Safety studies have shown that whitening teeth using the dentist-prescribed home whitening technique is perfectly safe on the teeth, cheeks, gum and tissue of the mouth. The whitening material has a pH, which is neutral.

Please contact us immediately if you have any concerns while you are whitening your teeth.