The steps in an office dental whitening procedure

Woman with SmileIt is quite normal for your teeth to discolor over time, especially if you smoke or if you are a tea or coffee lover. On the other hand, this does not have to mean that you are stuck with yellow teeth forever. With an office dental whitening procedure you can get back pearly and dazzling teeth.

Office dental whitening procedures have no "at home" alternatives. The first step in the whitening procedure is the cleaning of the teeth. This is done primly to get rid of any debris that might actually interfere with the whitening procedure. Also cleaning the teeth prior to the treatment will help the teeth get rid of any plaque which might actually be hiding around the gum line; this too can mess up the whitening procedure.

Once the teeth have been cleaned, the dentist applies a strong bleaching gel to the teeth. Typically this gel, made up of hydrogen peroxide, is far stronger than the gels that you will get in a "do it at home" bleaching kit. At the same time, the patients mouth is held wide open with a special device so as to make sure the teeth are fully exposed through the spreading out of the lips and gums away from the face. Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly-based product is applied onto the lips and gums to keep it moist and to prevent the laser from burning those areas. Although dentists usually do exercise a lot of precaution to ensure that the gums are not exposed to the gel, if this does happen, patients may face some gum irritation or sensitivity during the procedure and for a short while afterwards.

The final step is to set the bleaching gel to work. The gel contains tiny crystals which are the main agents who help in bringing back the color of the teeth. The activation of the gel is done through a special light which is not in fact a laser. The teeth are then exposed to this light for different periods of time depending on the type of stain and its severity. For instance, coffee stains are much easier to whiten than those caused by antibiotics. Although this treatment can usually be finished within one appointment, depending on the stain itself, you might have to come back in for another appointment.

Remember to follow up with your dentist and to adhere to his instructions strictly once the treatment is over. If you experience some gum irritation or sensitivity over the next few days, do not fret too much about it as this is seen in many patients and it will disappear soon. However, when you have such feelings avoid overly hot or cold foods as temperatures can increase the sensitivity. Also stay away from staining food such as fizzy drinks, coffee, tea or cigarettes for a few days after the treatment as the teeth are very prone to staining during this period.

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