Maryland Dental Arts


What Should I Expect from My Tooth Whitening Appointment?

teeth whitening

What Should I Expect from My Tooth Whitening Appointment?

Teeth Whitening in Washington DC

Have you ever posted a selfie and thought your teeth weren’t quite as white as you would like? While filters are a quick solution for a posted picture, you want to feel your best in real life, too.

You may have tried the gels and trays and toothpastes available at your local drugstore, but the results were spotty and didn’t last very long. A whitening appointment with your dentist  may be a more long-term fix to consider.

Here’s what you can expect from a tooth whitening procedure:


First thing’s first. Your dentist will have to determine if you are a good candidate for tooth whitening. You will have a dental exam and discuss your desired results, such as what shade you would like to achieve. If you have sensitive teeth, gum disease, open cavities, or worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleach whitening. In these cases, bleaching could irritate these problems and exacerbate sensitivity.

Determine Type of Whitening Needed

There are two types of teeth whitening: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic refers to stains on the surface of your tooth (the enamel). Extrinsic whitening can be achieved by a good polishing in the dental chair. Your dentist may also recommend using a whitening toothpaste for a few weeks to brighten your smile even more, and keep new stains away. You can also make some lifestyle changes such as avoiding smoking, coffee, tea, wine, and other staining foods and beverages.

Intrinsic whitening deals with the inner part of the tooth (dentin) and requires a hydrogen peroxide gel, sometimes aided by a laser light, to penetrate the outer layer. Whitening the inside reflects on the outside of the tooth, making the enamel appear lighter. This can last as long as three years or more, especially if you make the lifestyle changes mentioned above.

The Process

Once your dentist has decided that whitening is a suitable solution he may pick one of two methods:

Bleach whitening involves putting bleaching gel in a mouthguard-like tray and placing it in your mouth for at least 15 minutes. Your dentist will first protect your gums with a rubber shield or a protective gel and then apply the gel with the tray. This method usually takes three to four visits to see your desired results.

With laser whitening, your gums will be protected with a rubber dam, and the whitening gel will be carefully painted onto your teeth, or applied with a tray. Then, a laser light will be used to activate the whitening ingredient. This method generally produces quicker results than bleach itself.

Side Effects

Some people find their teeth become sensitive to extreme temperature (especially cold) immediately after whitening. Others experience gum discomfort or white patches on the gum line. These are temporary symptoms, lasting a few days at most. If they persist, or become worse, you should go see your dentist.

Teeth Whitening in D.C.

At L’Enfant Plaza Dental Arts, we know that a white smile is more than just a cosmetic procedure. Whitening can give you a boost of self-confidence and help you enjoy smiling more.

In-office, we offer the Zoom! Ultimate Power treatment. This is a 45-minute treatment that uses custom-made dental trays, a special gel, and the patented Zoom! light to brighten your teeth by six to ten shades with one sitting. We also have take-home whitening options.  Call us today at 202-488-8300.

Make an appointment today for a free consultation and x-ray, your first step toward the smile you want!

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