Teeth Whitening, Part III | Your Options

By In Dental Treatment March 17, 2018

Before we go into your different options, let’s review 3 important things:

#1 Biggest No. 1 Problem

When people resolve to have whiter teeth, the biggest problem we encounter is their overexposure to whitening. If teeth are placed in bleaching solution for too long or if they are frequently being brushed with abrasives, their enamel begins to erode - this is permanently damaging to teeth and harmful because our enamel is the protective layer of our teeth. If you whiten your teeth at home and are "over-whitening them", you could create sensitive teeth and struggle with your daily eating and drinking as a result. Whitening is alluring, but you must be cautious - make sure you are caring for your teeth properly!

#2 Habits to Prevent Discoloration:

  1. Rinse with water after eating, then floss.

  2. Then, brush 30 minutes or so after eating. (Don’t brush too soon after eating or you’ll be brushing away your enamel!)

By doing so any excessive bacterial acid or food sources will be removed before it impacts the enamel.


  • Tooth decay or gingivitis/periodontitis - you should deal with these issues before you whiten your teeth; you do not want to put teeth whitening solution onto infected or decayed teeth. What is the point of whitening your teeth if your mouth/teeth are not healthy?

  • Gum recession - you will be at risk for post-whitening sensitivity because the roots of your teeth are exposed - when the peroxide solution is in contact with your roots (cementum, which is not as strong as enamel) it will cause your teeth to be sensitive

  • Crowns or veneers - whitening can make these teeth stand out in particular because the color of these teeth cannot change

  • Tooth sensitivity - if your teeth are already sensitive, you are at risk for even more sensitivity!

YOUR OPTIONS: Ways to Whiten Your Teeth


1. Whitening Strips/One-Size Whitening Trays (Over-The-Counter)

Strips are thin, flexible plastic with a thin film of peroxide; trays are plastic created to fit any mouth which you place peroxide solution into. Duration of treatment varies depending on the patient’s desired results. Once teeth have reached the perfect shade of white, a patient can stop wearing the trays. Typically these are worn for 30 minutes a day, twice a day.

WARNING: Be careful of gum irritation; there is more residual sensitivity with store bought teeth bleaching kits due to the “one-size fits all” trays/strips vs. the custom fit trays from the dentist because you are allowing the bleach to contact areas beyond your teeth.

Because treatment is not supervised by a professional, the concentration of peroxide solution in OTC whiteners has less strength compared to professional whitening. You will see some whitening, but nothing like the results of professional whitening. Depending on how you maintain your whitening results, you may have to undergo this procedure multiple times, which can be more costly and damaging to your teeth in the long-run.

2. Professional Grade Whitening Gel

  • Take Home Custom Tray - an impression is taken of your teeth to be used to create customized whitening trays in our dental lab. They fit securely around teeth such that the peroxide loaded into the tray will not touch your gums. Patients are provided with an extra-strength whitening solution to use at home. The trays are to be worn for a couple of hours every night for a week or more.

  • In-House Professional Whitening - combination of a strong peroxide gel and a specially designed visible LED light lamp is used for 20 minutes producing immediate and dramatic whitening results.


1. Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste contains abrasives or “polishers” (hydrated silica) that remove plaque and stains, which can give your teeth a little gleam - but these only affect your tooth’s surfaces.  

WARNING: Over time an abrasive toothpaste could wear away the enamel of your tooth and resulting in exposing the yellowish dentin beneath. This means your teeth will look less white. Abrasives in whitening toothpastes can cause sensitivities for some people, so those with sensitive teeth should opt for Sensodyne Whitening Toothpaste.

2. Veneers  

Porcelain veneers are an irreversible cosmetic dental procedure that involves your teeth to be covered with thin, ceramic shells that are permanently cemented to teeth to lengthen worn teeth, close gaps, and restore smile symmetry at any shade of your choice. This is the most common way to achieve the popular "smile makeover". The color of porcelain veneers will not change over time, so your teeth can remain bright and vibrant. When properly cared for, porcelain veneers often last for decades and keep your smile looking youthful.

We understand that professional whitening isn’t in budget for everyone - it’s not practical if one does not take steps to give up the bad habits or maintain the whitening after the fact. But, as dental professionals, we highly recommend professional whitening options. If, on the other hand, your staining is not very severe and you have had success with an over-the-counter option in the past, it may work for you again! Just make sure to follow the directions, as outlined, and don’t use products repeatedly, or you risk damage to your enamel as well as heightened sensitivity. 

We hope this article has been helpful! If you have any questions regarding whitening or which option treatment is the best fit for you, please call 707-552-4900 or request an appointment online.