Among cosmetic dentistry procedures, tooth whitening is perhaps the most cost effective and rapid way to dramatically change the appearance of one's smile. With tooth whitening performed in a the office of a cosmetic dentist, patients can enjoy dramatically whiter teeth without the investment of time and money required for more complex cosmetic treatments such as porcelain veneers.
Over time, teeth can become stained by a variety of factors, including drinking red wine, coffee, or tea; certain medications; smoking; or older dental restorations. Stained teeth can make a person appear older than they really are, and many patients find that tooth whitening lends a more youthful, vibrant, and refreshed appearance to their smiles.
Whether a patient has one tooth that is stained or wish to brighten their entire smile, in-office tooth whitening can be completed in one visit to the cosmetic dentist, and often in less than one hour. To begin the process, the cosmetic dentist will gently clean any plaque on the patient's teeth and along the gum line. Then he or she will apply a peroxide-based gel to the teeth. This gel contains a professional strength whitening agent that is more potent than those available for in-home tooth whitening. Finally, a special laser is used to activate the bleaching agents in the gel. The patient usually reclines in a treatment chair for roughly one hour while this light is applied. The result is teeth that are up to ten shades whiter, though in rare cases the procedure may need to be repeated to eliminate particularly dark or deep stains.