Professional in-office teeth whitening are the most popular
cosmetic dental procedure in the world today. Unlike home-use
whitening systems that incorporate low-dose bleaching agents,
in-office whitening (also known as power bleaching, power
whitening, professional whitening or chairside whitening)
takes place under carefully monitored conditions which allow
for the safe, controlled, pain-free use of a relatively high
concentration of bleaching gel — yielding results that
are visible immediately.
Advantages of In-Office Whitening
• No other teeth whitening procedure produces faster
• This is the safest form of tooth bleaching.
• Gum and tooth sensitivity (formerly drawbacks to in-office
bleaching) are more controllable today due to thicker peroxide
gels (that don’t soak into the teeth as much as previous
gels) and the use of desensitizers such as potassium nitrate
Disadvantages of In-Office Whitening
• In-office bleaching is more expensive than take-home
• In-office bleaching is not a permanent solution. Shortly
after treatment is completed, the teeth resume accumulating
• We therefore recommend home maintenance follow-up
with a lower-percentage bleach that can be kept on the teeth
for longer periods of time.
Stains That are Best Removed with In-Office Whitening
Chairside whitening removes organic stains or discolorations
primarily caused by:
• Aging. Over time, the teeth darken with a yellow,
brown, green or grey cast (which may be due to heredity and/or
eating habits). Yellowed teeth tend to whiten most readily.
• Consumption of certain foods (notably coffee, red
wine, sodas and dark-colored vegetables and fruits).
• Tobacco use.
Stains Resistant to In-Office Whitening
• Teeth with certain stains — typically those
that are inorganic — do not respond well to in-office
whitening. In fact, these teeth may look even darker after
the surrounding teeth have been whitened.
• Trauma, which causes the dentin to darken.
• Tetracycline antibiotics ingested during tooth-formation.
These drugs chemically bind with the crystalline structure
of both the tooth’s enamel and underlying dentin.
• Overexposure to fluoride, which can cause fluorosis,
resulting in tooth discoloration.
Are you a Candidate for In-Office Whitening?
This procedure is not suitable for those with the following
• Tooth and gum hypersensitivity. To avoid a hypersensitive
reaction, your dentistis likely to recommend take-home bleaching
trays with a low concentration of carbamide peroxide —
which is not as potent as hydrogen peroxide.
• Deep and intractable staining. Some stains are resistant
to high-concentration in-office bleaches. In such cases, we
may recommend a supervised regimen of intensive take-home
bleaching or alternatives to peroxide bleaching such as bonding,
crowns or porcelain veneers.
• Teeth that have become transparent with age. This
is particularly true of the front teeth, which are thin to
Prepping the Teeth
• Your teeth will be given a prophylactic cleaning to
clear away plaque and debris that have collected on the surface
and between the teeth.
• A dental exam will be performed during the prophylactic
cleaning procedure to check for potential problems such as
severe tooth decay, cracks and gum disease. Bleaches can cause
varying degrees of irritation if these conditions are present.
• Photos may be taken of your teeth, and their color
measured on a shade guide. This provides a benchmark for assessing
your whitening progress.
In-Office Teeth Whitening Procedure
A fairly standard routine is followed. Typically, the steps
involved are not painful or uncomfortable.
A cheek retractor is inserted into the mouth, exposing all
the “esthetic zone” teeth (teeth that are visible
when you smile).
• A hardening resin is painted onto the gum tissue to
protect against any irritation caused by the bleaching gel.
• A bleaching gel containing hydrogen peroxide is applied
to the esthetic zone teeth and kept on for approximately 15
to 30 minutes.
• The bleaching gel is suctioned or washed off, and
fresh gel is applied for one or more additional periods of
15 to 30 minutes.
• We incorporate an intense light that is focused on
the teeth and is said to activate or enhance the bleaching
• Between gel applications, the teeth are checked to
see how well they have whitened, and whether more bleach needs
to be applied.
• After the final gel application, the cheek retractors
are removed, the patient rinses and the immediate post-treatment
shade change is measured. The teeth may whiten by as few as
two to three shades or as many as eight (out of a total of
16). Part of the whitening effect is due to dehydration during
the bleaching process, which makes the teeth look whiter than
their true new color. That color will emerge after a couple
If a satisfactory level of whitening hasn’t been achieved,
we may recommend a regimen of take-home bleaching trays.