Everything You Need to Know About Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional Teeth Whitening

Everything You Need to Know About Professional Teeth Whitening

What is teeth whitening?

If mouth rinses, toothpastes, and even at-home whitening strips are still leaving you with a lackluster smile, it might be time to leave the fate of your pearly whites to a pro. Professional teeth whitening can significantly brighten your chompers in less than an hour — and to a greater degree than at-home efforts can. Sound too good to be true? It’s not — but you will want to read the risks, costs, and other FAQs to determine whether the treatment is right for you.

Professional Teeth Whitening FAQS

  • What concerns can it address?

    Luckily for those of us who guzzle coffee and red wine, professional whitening can treat yellow and brown stains on the enamel. That said, it can be difficult or take longer to address tooth darkness caused by injury.

  • How does professional teeth whitening work?

    Similar to at-home whitening strips, professional teeth whitening relies on hydrogen peroxide-based or carbamide peroxide-based gel to bleach tooth enamel. The difference between DIY kits and professional processes is the percentage of the active ingredient contained in the whitening substance. Professional whitening has a much higher concentration (usually around 15 to 38 percent, compared to a maximum of 10 percent for DIY), which allows for whitening that is more intense and much faster than at-home options. That said, a higher level of the bleaching substance poses more risk for tooth sensitivity and/or damage to your enamel (which is why you’ll only find these levels in professional in-office treatments).

  • Does it hurt?

    Even though it seems like gel would be perfectly comfortable (especially compared to dentist’s drills!), some people cite a sharp, zapping feeling during and/or after it is applied to their teeth. (This is a result of the hydrogen peroxide inducing sensitivity.) That said, any discomfort should dissipate within a few days post-whitening. If you’re prone to tooth sensitivity, you may be at higher risk for those tooth zaps.

  • How much does it cost?

    Depending on where you live and which brand of tooth whitening you use, a single session can range in the hundreds of dollars. Luckily, many modern-day tooth whitening options only require one treatment for optimal results. (Though for some, you may need up to six.) While it may sound pricey, the American Dental Association cites tooth bleaching as a "conservative and cost-effective" dental treatment for smile enhancement.

  • What are the risks?

    When performed properly by a professional, teeth whitening poses very few known risks. Gum sensitivity is common, as is the aforementioned “zapping” feeling. Enamel erosion is possible, though extremely rare, and usually caused by over-bleaching. It’s crucial to whiten teeth only as much as your provider recommends (usually once a year). Too many bleaching appointments put your teeth at risk for permanent damage.

  • What outcome can I expect after treatment?

    Unlike at-home whitening treatments, the results from professional teeth whitening treatments are virtually instant. The degree of coloration change will vary from person to person. Be sure to talk with your specialist about what kind of results you can expect.

Now what?

Schedule a consultation with a licensed aesthetics provider near you.


Almost always, professional whitening is performed in a dentist’s office. Before the procedure, your provider (either a dentist or a trained assistant) will examine your teeth to ensure they’re healthy enough for bleaching. The consultation is also an ideal time to ask your provider any burning questions you might have — including the results you can expect.


A whitening treatment transpires somewhat similarly to a typical dentist visit: you recline in a chair and (try to) relax while your provider goes to work. One difference is the mouthpiece that (s)he will insert. This contraption works to expose your teeth and protect your gums from the whitening solution. (You will wear it throughout the entirety of the treatment.) Next, your provider will apply the hydrogen peroxide based gel to your teeth. Depending on the specific whitening treatment, the gel may be followed by a beam of blue light (this speeds the whitening solution along). Most professional tooth whitening treatments take less than one hour. During this time, your provider will slather on more gel in increments (usually every 15 minutes).


There is no downtime. However, you may need to pop an over-the-counter painkiller for those zinging sensations if they start bothering you. Another important consideration: you can’t reach for that bottle of vino — or any other colored foods like berries — for at least 48 hours post treatment. This is because teeth are more porous after whitening, which makes them more prone to staining. If you’re not sure what to avoid, think of it this way: any food that could ruin a white shirt could also discolor your newly whitened teeth.


Cosmetic treatments don’t always provide instant gratification, but results from professional whitening are visible immediately post-treatment. Better yet, they can last for up to three years.The longevity is dependant on lifestyle and maintaining oral good hygiene. Be sure to talk to your provider about how best to maintain results from professional teeth whitening.

Questions about beauty, skincare, and medical aesthetics? Just ask.

Our trained aesthetic specialists are here to help with the personalized answers you want.

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