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FAQ's about Teeth Whitening - Cont'd

Please note: Results vary and the information below is given to assist you in making an informed decision. Neither dentist.net nor the manufacturers guarantee any particular result.

Teeth Whitening Instructions | Opalescence Gel Questions

10. What is the shelf life and wearing time of bleaching gel?

Generally the shelf life of most bleaching gel is approx. 2 yrs if refrigerated and 1 yr un-refrigerated. Un-refrigerated bleach should be stored in a dry cool environment. The wearing time is based on the strength of bleaching gel.

  • 10% -16% can be used for minutes to overnight  if no sensitivity
  • 20- 22% - 1 hr / application

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11. What do the different bleaching percentages mean?

The percentages (%'s) prefer to the concentration of bleaching agent. It is generally accepted that the higher the % of bleaching agent, the stronger the bleach and the more effective it is at bleaching. There is however, no objective research to substantiate it. One of the main advantages of the higher % is reduced wearing time. 10 - 16% can be worn for a few hours to overnight, where as a 20-22% bleach should only be used for 1 hour per application.

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12. Which bleaching gel works the best i.e. faster?

The active ingredient is the same with most bleaching brands. Zoom, Nite White turbo and Day White have a slightly different active ingredient, which works a little more rapidly, but in the same manner. Some feel that these products cause more tooth sensitivity. Please keep in mind that some teeth are more difficult to bleach than others no matter what bleaching agent you use. The older you are and the more gray your teeth are, the more difficult it is to bleach. Some teeth that will achieve only minor whitening improvement no matter what product you use.

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13. How many bleaching syringes do I need to buy in order to whiten my teeth?

As brands of syringes vary in the amount of bleaching gel, it is easier to quantify by using the ml's or cc's (same thing) and NOT the number of syringes. It is generally accepted that each treatment requires approx 0.5 ml's (cc's) of bleaching gel per application. The average person with yellow teeth will therefore needs about 10-15ml's (cc's). Keep in mind that you may need to do touch-up's at a later date to maintain the whitening. Grayish colored teeth are more difficult to whiten and will require additional bleaching gel. Keep in mind that only a small droplet needs to be placed on the inside surface of the outer wall of your custom made whitening tray opposite each of the front 8 teeth. It is not necessary to whiten the teeth towards the back of your mouth as these teeth are not usually visible when you smile.

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14. What is the difference between carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide bleaching gel?

There are 2 main bleaching ingredients. Carbamide peroxide (e.g. Opalescence, dentist.net, Nite white) and hydrogen peroxide (e.g. Day White, Zoom, and Nite White turbo). Comparatively, a 7.5% hydrogen peroxide is equivalent to a 22% carbamide peroxide while a 9.5% hydrogen peroxide is equivalent to a 28% carbamide peroxide.

Carbamide peroxide actually breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Patients must wear Nite White for a longer period of time so that the carbamide can break down in to hydrogen peroxide, the active ingredient. The only real difference for you is the wearing time. Nite White was first developed in a 10% solution to be used overnight, allowing time for the carbamide peroxide to breakdown into hydrogen peroxide. With the demand for a more effective bleaching agent, the 16% and 22% were launched. The 16% can also be used overnight while the 22% is used for 1 hour only. Both Day White and Nite White will take you to the same bleaching end point. Theoretically it would appear then that Day White 9.5% would be more effective but there is no research to substantiate this.

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15. How long I should refrain from coffee and red wine after bleaching?

It is recommended to avoid such during whitening and for 1 week after tooth bleaching. Dentist.net however recommends not changing your lifestyle. If you feel that your teeth have yellowed over time, it is okay to do touch-up bleaching 1-2 applications every 4-6 months as needed.

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16. Will teeth whiten to the same degree on everyone?

No, Results vary. Some teeth whiten dramatically in just a few days, while others may take weeks to months to show a difference, if any. The more yellow versus gray color you have in your teeth, the better the bleaching result. Grey enamel similar to that of Tetracycline (antibiotic) staining is more difficult to bleach. Some normal teeth will achieve only minor whitening improvement no matter what product you use. Results cannot be guaranteed.

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17. The area of the teeth near the gums is still not as white as the rest of the tooth?

Make sure that the bleach covers the entire surface of the tooth and not just the bottom half. The average tooth will usually have a seamless whitening transition from whiter at the bottom of the tooth (biting surface) to less white towards the gum line. This is normal and an expected result. This is due to thinner enamel in this area allowing more show through of the tooth color. Very few cases have total uniform whiteness. With grayish teeth, the transition is occasionally somewhat more noticeable. One might see a demarcation area / line between the 2 areas. Keep in mind that whitening fades and the tooth will in most instances gradually blend. In some cases that are extremely resistant to bleaching, one might consider bonding or veneers as an alternative treatment.

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18. I just started bleaching and it looks uneven with white spots and blotchiness. Should I continue bleaching or stop?

It is also normal that certain areas of the tooth such as areas of decalcification will respond more rapidly to bleaching resulting in blotchiness at first while the rest of the tooth catches up as one continues to bleach. The blotchiness is the first to fade after stopping resulting in a more uniform appearance.

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19. How long do you recommend using the bleaching gel?

The choice when to stop bleaching is really a personal one. Stop when you are pleased with the results. Teeth will gradually get whiter and within either a few days or 2 weeks in most cases reach a plateau where they will not get any whiter. This is the maximum amount of whitening you will reach and at that point do not bleach any further. It is normal for it to fade slightly and then stabilize after you have discontinued. Dentist.net does not recommend bleaching beyond 2-4 weeks. Most teeth whiten well within the first week of use.

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