Tray bleaching is probably the best and most popular way for patients to whiten their teeth. It has been in use since the 1990's and is a procedure that has truly stood the test of time. It appears to be safe and is a most affordable option for our patients. Unlike in-office teeth whitening procedures, the patient can apply the bleach to his own teeth, as often as he or she desires. For an initial expense of about $500 the patient has a shrink wrap mold made of his or her mouth. This mold is often worn at night with a special bleaching solution (usually 16% carbamide peroxide solution) for a period of one to three weeks while the teeth gradually whiten. During this whitening period the patient briefly stops into our office for a quick visit so that we may monitor the teeth whitening process. When the teeth reach the desired shade of whiteness the process is over. Custom tray bleaching has the advantage over in office light assisted bleaching techniques in that it allows the patient to have a more flexible end point. You have some control of how white you make your teeth. If you donít want super white teeth, wear the trays a shorter number of nights. If you change your mind and want to go whiter you can resume wearing the trays. The whitening can last for years but does tend to diminish slowly over time.
Touch ups, although not required, are usually best done once per year and are accomplished by wearing the trays with bleaching solution for one or two nights only! (Approximate cost $25)
Although your teeth whiten during the bleaching process, your fillings will not. Sometimes teeth can appear unevenly colored afterwards, if they have fillings that no longer match the color of the teeth. Also if you have crowns towards the front of your mouth they also will not change color and may no longer match.
During the bleaching process and for several weeks afterward, it is recommended that patients refrain from drinking and eating things that may stain the teeth. The teeth are temporarily somewhat porous and prone to picking up stains internally. Also, many patients report a transient sensitivity during the bleaching process. When this happens, I usually recommend they take a day or two off before resuming the whitening process.
There are many ways to whiten your teeth (light assisted in-office, over the counter methods and tray bleaching), but tray bleaching is my favorite since most patients find it relatively easy and it allows for easy touch-ups. Which ever way you choose, whitening your smile has never been easier and most people are very pleased with the results!