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Teeth Brightening: Is it Right for You?

A radiant, confident smile is attractive and indicates that you care for your oral health. One of the most effective ways to improve your smile is by brightening your teeth. Sometimes brightening your teeth one or two shades can improve your confidence and shave 10-15 years off your appearance.

There are two ways to brighten your teeth:

Teeth whitening is done with over-the-counter products. Toothpaste, mouth wash, gels, whitening trays, and whitening pens are OTC teeth whitening products. They remove surface stains and whiten your teeth quickly, but unfortunately do not last as long as teeth bleaching.

Teeth bleaching

Unlike OTC, teeth bleaching is doctor-supervised and contains higher percentages of peroxide (the active ingredient in whitening your teeth). By containing higher percentages of peroxide (approximately 10-20%), teeth bleaching removes surface and non-surface stains, allowing your teeth to remain brighter longer.

Who is a candidate for teeth whitening and teeth bleaching?

Almost anyone is a prospect for teeth whitening, but there are incidences where you want to avoid these products.

  • People who have had noticeable dental work, such as veneers, crowns, or bridges, with no plans of replacing these restorations. This is because while brightening your natural teeth, your restorations will remain the same shade as before and will not remove stains or alter the color of the restorations.

  • People with tooth sensitivity want to avoid teeth whitening because those treatments can further exacerbate their tooth sensitivity. Family Dentistry of Lakewood recommends using anti-sensitivity toothpaste for at least two weeks before starting any bleaching.

  • People requiring dental work due to gum disease or receding gums should wait until their dental work is complete before considering teeth whitening.

  • Pregnant or lactating moms who are breastfeeding should avoid teeth bleaching products.

Are you ready to brighten your teeth?

Once you have decided to try doctor-prescribed teeth bleaching, we will schedule an appointment to make molds of your teeth and create your custom trays. You will then receive a tube of gel-based bleach of your color choice and specific instructions.


For best results, you should wear the trays overnight, allowing the peroxide to separate from the gel and penetrate your teeth, breaking up the stains. The length of time and number of days you wear the bleaching trays will depend on how your teeth respond.


Be patient with the process; it can take roughly six months to reach your desired results. Each of your teeth has a plateau where they reach a certain level of brightness and won’t brighten any further, so set your expectations accordingly. Once you achieve that level, you will need to bleach once or twice a year to maintain that color.

Are there any side effects?

The most significant side effects are sensitivity, so we recommend starting with a lower percentage of gel to see how your teeth respond. In addition, we recommend using Sensodyne toothpaste in your whitening trays and alternating with the bleach mixture to help decrease sensitivity. Taking Advil can also help with any pain or discomfort you feel.

Some more positive side effects include: feeling more confident, feeling younger, people noticing your beautiful smile, and people asking, “what is your secret?”

If you are ready for a brighter, whiter smile, contact Family Dentistry of Lakewood at 253.584.3121 to set up a consultation and determine the best action plan for you. We look forward to working with you. Stay tuned for our next blog on tooth restorations, crowns, and veneers.


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