Tooth Whitening Questions

Serving Northern Virginia including Oakton, Fairfax, Reston, Alexandria and Arlington

Why couldn’t I just use some kind of store-bought tooth whitening product?

You could, but don’t expect dramatic or consistent results. In fact, don’t expect any results at all from “whitening” toothpaste. The store-bought kits have all-purpose trays which almost certainly will not fit your unique teeth. That means the whitening agent will be in contact with your teeth in an off-and-on fashion, giving you patchy results. Also, the whitening gel will contain a weaker active agent than what Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Chung can provide for you. The “whitening” toothpastes actually make your teeth more yellow in the long run, because they have abrasive ingredients like baking soda which gradually scrape off your white enamel, revealing more of the yellow dentin layer underneath.

Does tooth whitening hurt?

Not typically, although some people have extra sensitive teeth and might feel some discomfort. If you have an in-office tooth whitening procedure, Dr. Chung will be aware that you might feel discomfort, and will stop the procedure if you indicate that you are feeling it. A desensitizing gel can be applied to neutralize the effect of the whitening gel.

If you have a take-home kit, Dr. Chung will ask which strength of gel you’d like: mild, moderate or strong. You can choose. The kit will contain a little tube of desensitizing agent in case you do feel any discomfort. You can use that in the two trays for a day or so instead of the whitening gel.

How white could my teeth become after tooth whitening? Is it worth doing?

They would typically become six or eight shades whiter, whether you have an in-office treatment, or a take-home kit. You will be given a shade strip with the take-home kit, and you can mark where your teeth are before treatment and where they are afterwards. In an office whitening treatment, Dr. Chung will take photos before and after. The difference will be quite obvious.

Usually, the only teeth that don’t respond dramatically are those with very deep staining, too deep for the whitening agent to reach. Those deep stains were formed as the teeth developed in childhood, often as a side effect of a drug such as tetracycline. If you have this type of staining, you might consider porcelain veneers to whiten your smile.

How long will my teeth stay white after the whitening treatment?

That will depend on (a) your daily dental hygiene; and (b) your daily foods and drinks. If you drink a lot of coffee or red wine, for instance, these pigmented drinks will stain your teeth more quickly than if you drink them only occasionally. The same goes for any strongly pigmented food, such as blackberries or blueberries. However, if you brush your teeth well after each meal or snack, and floss daily, your changes of keeping your teeth white are much higher.

Why is a light used for the in-office whitening treatment?

It is used to heat the whitening gel after it’s on your teeth. That activates the whitening agent in the gel and speeds its work. Your gums and lips will first be given a protective coating so the light will only have an effect on the gel. This use of the light (and it’s not a laser) is what makes the in-house treatment so fast and effective.

If you would like to schedule a consultation please call us or send our dentistry office an email. We see only two or three patients each day, so that we can give you our full attention and the best service possible. Our office serves Oakton, Tyson’s Corner, Reston, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington and the Northern Virginia area.

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