Common Questions About Teeth Whitening Answered by a Dentist

Posted by Dr. Michael Diez Dec 21, 2022

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At our Tampa dental office, patients come in for various general and cosmetic dental procedures. Some patients need certain procedures for better oral health, while other patients choose certain procedures in order to improve their smile. One of these optional procedures is our professional teeth whitening treatment.

Our professional teeth whitening treatments are among our most popular and sought-after dental services. Patients love that their teeth can become two to three shades whiter in just a short time. With whiter teeth, our patients gain more confidence and are proud to show off their smiles to the world.

However, despite the effectiveness and massive popularity of our professional teeth whitening treatment, many people still have questions. In this article, we’ll share some of the most commonly asked questions about teeth whitening.

“How Does Teeth Whitening Work?”

There’s more than one way to perform a teeth whitening treatment. At its simplest, the whitening process involves the application of a whitening agent on teeth. At General & Cosmetic Dentistry of Tampa, we offer prescription-strength Opalescence® Tooth Whitening Systems. Either the dentist applies the treatment in office or the patient can apply it themselves using take-home trays.

With this treatment, there is no bleaching agent, but rather a whitening gel. The active ingredients in the specially formulated gel include potassium nitrate and fluoride, and carbamide peroxide. The application is via a custom tray molded to the patient’s teeth.

For all patients, custom trays filled with the whitening gel remain in place for a period of time (15–60 minutes) in order to allow oxygen molecules to spread the whitening gel so it reacts with the discolored molecules. After about an hour, you might see immediate results. If you opt for in-office treatment, you might notice a whiter smile before you leave the dentist’s office! With at-home treatment, your teeth will become a couple of shades lighter with about a week of regular use.

“Do I Need to Have Visibly Discolored Teeth to Go in for a Teeth Whitening Session?”

Not everyone thinks to get teeth whitening. It is a cosmetic dental procedure, after all. Nevertheless, everyone can benefit from professional teeth whitening, including those with only slightly discolored teeth.

Teeth whitening does more than whiten your teeth. The teeth whitening gel consists of chemicals that can clean surface stains, ridding your mouth of bacteria that cause bad breath. The chemical treatment can also address sensitive teeth by creating a secondary barrier on the tooth enamel. In other words, teeth whitening can treat tooth sensitivity, too.

In short, you don’t need to have visibly discolored teeth to visit us for a tooth whitening treatment. Even if the goal of treatment isn’t to turn your teeth a bright shade, you’ll still appreciate the other dental health benefits.

“Is Teeth Whitening Treatment Effective for Removing All Kinds of Stains?”

The short answer is yes. According to the American Dental Association, teeth whitening is an effective way to eliminate extrinsic and intrinsic stains.

Teeth whitening can remove stains because of the hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide found in the gels. These agents are effective at dislodging food or liquid residue (like those from coffee or red wine). The application of these agents – even on their own – lead to whitened teeth that last for a long time.

“How Long Can I Expect My Teeth to Stay Whitened?”

On average, we see clients maintaining their newly brightened pearly whites for at least a year. However, this varies from one person to another. One of the factors that determine how long teeth stay white is the patient’s lifestyle and diet.

People who have gotten their teeth whitened can expect their teeth to remain white if they avoid excess caffeine, nicotine, and other substances that can stain teeth. Also, people who have incorporated healthy oral hygiene practices can keep tooth stains at bay longer than those who haven’t.

“Isn’t There a Faster Way to Whiten Teeth?”

There are some faster ways to whiten teeth, like laser whitening. Some people believe bleaching is also a faster treatment.

With bleaching, the dentist applies hydrogen peroxide on the teeth as the bleaching agent. The dentist uses bleaching trays that are worn like mouth guards to apply the solutions and air causes a chemical reaction that triggers the bleaching process. The process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour.

However, after having performed all these treatments in the past, we have found our patients get the best results using Opalescence Tooth Whitening Systems. It is longer-lasting than laser teeth whitening and safer than bleaching.

“Should I Be Worried About Any Side-Effects?”

A teeth whitening treatment is a safe procedure we carry out in our Tampa dental office or the patient does themselves at home. With that said, you don’t have to worry, but there might be a few mild side effects. First, you might experience sensitivity immediately after the treatment. For this reason, we recommend not eating or drinking anything ice cold or piping hot for the first few hours after treatment.

Another common side effect is gum soreness. Gum soreness occurs because of the introduction of carbamide peroxide. Luckily, the soreness is short-lived, lasting no more than a few days.

“Is a Home or In-Office Professional Whitening Solution Better Than Using an Over-the-Counter Whitening System?

This is a question we get a lot. While we don’t discourage the use of whitening toothpaste or whitening strips, we will say this:

Prescription whitening treatment is better because it is more effective and lasts longer.

Professional treatments use stronger solutions than those found at a store. The stronger formula leads to longer lasting teeth whiteness.

Furthermore, you can get immediate results with professional teeth whitening. After an in-office whitening session, you’ll see a noticeable difference in the shade of your teeth. You’ll be amazed at how much whiter your teeth are compared to when you entered our office.

Looking for the Best Professional Teeth Whitening Specialists in Tampa? Smile and Reach Out!

Nothing beats professional treatment when you want whiter teeth. If you’re looking for in-office teeth whitening services or at-home whitening solutions that put your smile first, try our Opalescence Tooth Whitening System.

Book an appointment at General & Cosmetic Dentistry today to discuss your teeth whitening options and the teeth whitening cost. You’ll be surprised how easily you could experience a brighter and healthier smile with the help of the best cosmetic teeth whitening dentists in Tampa! Call or text us at 813-370-1014 (North Tampa) or 813-331-0364 (South Tampa) to schedule your appointment.

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3112 West Kennedy Blvd Suite A, South Tampa, Fl 33609

Phone: (813) 874-5869


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  • MON - TUE8:30 am - 5:00 pm
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Contact Us