There are two types of procedures your dentist can do for you in his or her office. You can choose in office bleaching, or a laser treatment. These procedures actually change the color of your teeth, rather than just removing surface stains.
In office bleaching can be very effective – you see immediate results which can last for months. The dentist first applies a protective shield or gel to your gums, to prevent any soft tissue damage from the bleaching agent.
The dentist then applies the bleaching agent, painting it onto your teeth. The bleaching agent sits on your teeth for half an hour to an hour, breaking down into its component parts and putting oxygen into your enamel, which whitens your tooth enamel. You may have to go more than once for this procedure in order to get the desired effect.
Laser treatments can be very expensive, but they can also lighten your teeth up to six shades more than in office bleaching. It is the most effective treatment for whitening teeth. Laser treatment, also called power whitening, is added onto in office bleaching.
A rubber shield is placed over the gums, the bleaching agent is applied, and a light is shone onto the teeth. Depending on the light or laser, the light may be stationary or the dentist may move it from tooth to tooth. The light speeds up the chemical breakdown of the peroxide, and thus more oxygen gets into the enamel.
This procedure usually accomplishes results in one treatment, and the effects last up to three years.
With either procedure, the dentist will usually add fluoride to the bleaching agent, so as to minimize any weakening of the enamel. Some people feel an increase in tooth sensitivity or some gum irritation, but these side effects are temporary.