There are 2 main ways to whiten teeth and  both involve bleaching.  The first way is  in-office bleaching.  This takes only an hour or so, and you walk out of an office with white teeth.  The second option is at-home bleaching, where custom trays with a special bleach are utilized.  The method takes up to two weeks (wearing the trays for several hours in the evening), but is the method we prefer.  The advantages to at-home bleaching are:
A whiter white
Less sensitivity
A more color stable tooth.  Once bleaching is stopped, all teeth slowly return to their previous color.  With at-home bleaching, they stay whiter for a longer period of time
Ability to "touch-up" your bleaching.  When your teeth do start discoloring, it is very easy to purchase some new bleach from our office (at a minimal cost),  use the new bleach along with your custom trays for a few days, and you are back to white teeth.  With in-office bleaching, you must go through the  costly procedure again.
Not all teeth respond to bleaching.

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Copyright Gordon K. Wymore DDS 2009