Functionally Driven, Minimally Invasive Cosmetic Dentistry
Greenwich Family Dental

Teeth Whitening

Teeth stains and discoloration can develop as a result of the natural aging process, smoking, or consumption of common staining agents like coffee, tea, soda, red wine, berries, and other items. Our Greenwich cosmetic dentist, George Tsangaroulis, DDS, offers professional teeth whitening to patients who would like to lighten teeth stains and discoloration. Teeth bleaching may also be necessary prior to other dental treatments, like veneers or composite bonding, to ensure that all teeth and restorations blend seamlessly with each other. Overall, professional teeth whitening can be an optimal solution for individuals who want to enhance the overall look of their smile.

If you are interested in learning more about how teeth bleaching can rejuvenate your smile, we invite you to read the informational sections provided below.

What Causes Teeth Staining?

A tooth can become discolored when the pigmentation of its enamel (outward layer) or dentin (the next layer) is affected by either external or internal factors. Common external causes include consumption of colorful foods and drinks, smoking or chewing tobacco, or the use of certain medications. Internal concerns such as aging, genetics, and disease may also make teeth more vulnerable to discoloration.

While some of these causes of tooth staining are inherent and more difficult to combat, maintaining good oral hygiene can significantly prevent others. For instance, if you often drink coffee or eat berries, you can still reduce your chances of developing stains if you brush and floss regularly. Additionally, abstaining from smoking or consuming tobacco can mitigate stains.

What Are the Benefits of Teeth Whitening?

In addition to improving self-confidence, teeth whitening can also do the following:

  • Provide quick results in one visit or very few visits
  • Reduce teeth stains or discoloration
  • Lighten teeth by several shades
  • Offer a highly-personalized treatment plan customized to the patient’s unique needs and aesthetic goals

Sometimes, certain teeth stains and discoloration may be too difficult to reverse. In these cases, Dr. Tsangaroulis may recommend other cosmetic solutions, like porcelain veneers, to help you achieve the cosmetic improvement you are aiming for. During the consultation, he will carefully evaluate your teeth to determine the best solution for your situation.

Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Teeth Whitening

Over-the-counter bleaching strips, gels, and toothpastes can take weeks or even months to effectively lighten teeth to the shade you want. For professional teeth whitening, an experienced dentist tailors treatment to the individual and can provide desired results in about an hour. Since a dentist supervises the professional teeth whitening process, they can ensure that treatment is being completed safely and correctly. In addition, professional, in-office whitening treatments typically contain advanced bleaching agents that are not available in many over-the-counter teeth whitening kits.

What Are My Teeth Whitening Options?

Our team understands that every patient has their own individual needs, cosmetic goals, unique tooth anatomy, and sometimes underlying oral health conditions. In other words, there is no “one-size-fits-all” teeth whitening procedure, and multiple methods exist to suit our patients. Dr. Tsangaroulis offers a number of these popular techniques in the interest of fully customizing each teeth whitening treatment. We will help you determine your ideal whitening method after a comprehensive evaluation of your teeth.

Zoom!® In-Office Teeth Whitening

Zoom!® In-Office Teeth Whitening is unique because it includes the use of blue LED technology to activate the hydrogen peroxide in the whitening gel, which accelerates the bleaching procedure. After the whitening portion of the process, Dr. Tsangaroulis applies a specialized fluoride gel to protect the enamel and help reduce tooth sensitivity. During treatment, patients can sit back and listen to music, read a book, watch TV, or take a nap. The process usually only takes about an hour to complete and is performed entirely in the office.

Zoom!® Take-Home Teeth Whitening

For Zoom!® Take-Home Teeth Whitening, Dr. Tsangaroulis takes impressions of the patient’s teeth to create custom whitening trays that can be used in the comfort of their home. This option allows patients to bleach their teeth when it is most convenient for them. Dr. Tsangaroulis will give clear instructions on how long to wear each whitening application. It usually takes a few days of usage to achieve optimal results.

Ultradent Opalescence GO™

This advanced teeth whitening option does not require any impressions or time in the office at all, though patients have the option of supplementing in-office treatments with this potent at-home treatment. The pre-filled whitening gel trays are designed to securely adhere to a patient’s teeth for a comfortable fit. Patients should wear them for up to an hour at a time for approximately five to 10 days to reap the full benefits.

Take-Home KöR® Teeth Whitening

Often used in addition to Zoom!® In-Office Teeth Whitening, Take-Home KöR® Teeth Whitening is able to reduce dark, noticeable stains, including those of a greyer shade. After one quick in-office examination, Dr. Tsangaroulis will create a set of take-home trays to fit your teeth and enhance their whiteness. In addition, KöR® Teeth Whitening procedures are known to create less opportunity for tooth sensitivity than other whitening treatments and may be an excellent choice if you are prone to soreness. Patients are generally directed to wear the customized trays at night for two weeks before returning for a final whitening session with Dr. Tsangaroulis.

How Can I Manage Tooth Sensitivity During Teeth Whitening?

Some patients may experience some sensitivity during or after the teeth whitening process. We usually recommend doing the following to minimize any discomfort:

  • Use anti-sensitivity toothpaste before and after treatment
  • Use fluoride mouthwash
  • Brush teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and lukewarm water
  • Avoid extremely cold, hot, or acidic foods and beverages

It is important to let Dr. Tsangaroulis know if your tooth sensitivity becomes too uncomfortable. He may need to adjust your treatment plan so that the process is more comfortable for you, like reducing the amount of gel used for each treatment or increasing the amount of time between sessions.

How Long Do Teeth Whitening Results Last?

Teeth whitening results usually last one to two years, depending on how well the patient takes care of their teeth after treatment. To prolong the effects of teeth bleaching, we suggest avoiding foods and beverages known to stain teeth, brushing and flossing on a regular basis (at least two times a day), and not using any tobacco products. Patients can also schedule follow-up sessions with their dentist if desired.

How Often Should I Whiten My Teeth?

Because the longevity of effects varies upon a patient’s dental hygiene, certain patients will require more frequent touch-ups than others to achieve optimal whitening. Your teeth may retain their whiteness for up to two years, but you may also benefit from a whitening session every six months. Dr. Tsangaroulis can help you determine a treatment plan after a thorough evaluation of your oral health and cosmetic goals.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

At Greenwich Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, the cost of teeth whitening can vary depending on the extent of treatment, the number of sessions, and the type of whitening technique utilized. We personalize the teeth whitening procedure for each of our patients, and the price of treatment will reflect any adjustments made to meet your needs.

Dr. Tsangaroulis and the rest of our team want to make the financial process as stress-free as possible for every patient. For this reason, we accept all major credit cards and other payment options, as well as third-party financiers, such as CareCredit®. This lender offers several monthly payment plans with little to no interest rates for eligible patients. A member of our friendly staff would be glad to help you apply for CareCredit® if you wish. Please explore our dental financing options to learn more.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Teeth Whitening

Can I whiten my teeth if I have porcelain veneers?

The materials used to create porcelain veneers are not affected by bleaching agents and remain unchanged by whitening methods. The color shade chosen for a custom-made porcelain veneer is designed to maintain its appearance for a long time. Therefore, whitening your teeth with a mixture of natural teeth and even just one porcelain veneer may result in an unbalanced overall appearance. We typically recommend undergoing a teeth whitening procedure before placement of porcelain veneers so the restorations can be color-matched to lighter, healthier-looking surrounding teeth. In cases where the veneers were placed a long time ago and patients would like them to blend more seamlessly with whiter, brighter teeth, we may recommend the placement of new veneers that are custom-shaded for a better match with surrounding teeth.

Will teeth whitening get rid of all stains?

Overall, professional teeth whitening treatments can be highly effective for minimizing signs of many different kinds of surface stains from the enamel and dentin layers of teeth. However, there are some occurrences in which teeth whitening may not be the ideal answer. Certain medications, the natural aging process, and lifestyle factors can cause tooth discoloration that can be less permeable and therefore less susceptible to whitening. Additionally, often occurring with age, if the tooth’s enamel has become significantly thin and the dentin layer beneath is exposed, it can be much harder to remove the yellowing of the teeth from elements that are able to more easily penetrate the tooth’s color. In cases such as these, alternative treatments may be recommended.

How much can I lighten my smile?

Generally, professional teeth whitening can lighten teeth by up to nine shades, but the average patient can see a noticeable difference with brighter results after two to three shades of enhancement. When deciding on a shade, most dentists usually advise to select a shade that looks natural to the unique individual with more of a refreshed appearance.

Is there downtime after teeth whitening?

Although downtime isn’t typically necessary after a whitening treatment, teeth may be sensitive for a few days after the bleaching process. Your dentist may recommend using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth leading up to and after the treatment to help alleviate these symptoms. It is also recommended to avoid food and beverages with darker pigments (coffee, tea, wine, berries, etc.) for the first few days after whitening as the freshly treated teeth may be more vulnerable to staining during this period.

How old do you have to be to whiten your teeth?

Most dentists recommend waiting for all of the adult teeth to have developed prior to getting a whitening treatment. This varies from person to person, but usually will occur after 14 years of age. Once the adult teeth are formed, the pulp of the teeth should be stronger and more supportive against any discomfort from the bleaching agents or treatment process. Additionally, waiting until all orthodontic treatments are complete is beneficial for longer results, as the areas of the teeth covered by braces or an appliance may cause the outcome to be uneven.

Professional teeth whitening can be highly effective at achieving a whiter and brighter smile. If you would like to learn more or see if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening, we invite you to schedule an appointment today. Our talented team of dental professionals is here to help.