FAQs about Teeth Whitening

Do your yellow teeth make you feel self-conscious when you smile? If your pearly whites really aren’t that white, you have the option of brightening your smile with teeth whitening. Learn more about your options and whether teeth whitening is right for you.

What are my teeth whitening options?

There are many ways to make your teeth whiter, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Your choices include:

  • Whitening toothpaste (makes teeth about one shade lighter)
  • Over-the-counter whitening rinse (takes about 12 weeks to lighten teeth by about one shade)
  • Over-the-counter whitening strips and trays (lightens teeth by two to three shades)
  • Prescription-grade whitening trays (Zen Dental Center offers Philips Zoom NiteWhite take-home whitening trays to lighten teeth by three or more shades)
  • In-office teeth whitening (Zen Dental Center also offers Philips Zoom in-office teeth whitening to lighten teeth by up to eight shades in just 45 minutes)

We recommend a combination of in-office teeth whitening and three weeks of at-home tray whitening to lighten your smile by an average of 11 shades!

Does in-office teeth whitening work for everyone?

Yellowed teeth respond best to any form of teeth whitening. Brownish-colored stains react less effectively, and blue-gray staining caused by tetracycline may require several in-office treatments or six months of home treatments to achieve the desired results.

Grayish, purple-hued or very dark stains may not be treatable with teeth whitening. In these cases, you may want to brighten your smile with veneers, bonding or crowns.

How long do the effects of teeth whitening last?

Whitening is not permanent, but you can prolong the effects of in-office whitening up to a year or more by following these tips:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that stain your teeth, including coffee, tea, wine, soda, acidic foods, candy and dark-colored berries.
  • Brush your teeth (or at least rinse with water) immediately after consuming stain-causing foods and drinks.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss at least once.
  • Use whitening toothpaste once or twice a week to help maintain the effects of in-office whitening.

Is teeth whitening safe? What are the risks?

Many prescription-grade and in-office whitening products have received the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, including the products available at Zen Dental Center. They don’t damage tooth enamel, existing fillings or tooth nerves. Just be aware that the ADA does not approve any over-the-counter whitening products.

While rare, the most likely side effects of teeth whitening include temporary tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. To reduce these problems, try these tips:

  • Wear whitening trays twice a day for half the allotted time.
  • Skip whitening for a couple of days.
  • Use toothpaste made for sensitive teeth.

Does insurance cover the cost of teeth whitening?

No. Teeth whitening is considered cosmetic, so most dental insurance plans don’t cover the cost.

Ready to brighten your smile? Contact Zen Dental Center at 206-324-1100 to schedule an in-office teeth whitening appointment today!

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