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What to Know About Whitening

Course Number: 491


Do your patients often ask you about whitening their teeth? How prepared do you feel to answer their questions? Tooth whitening or bleaching is one of the most frequently requested dental procedures. The increase in demand for tooth whitening is keeping pace with both the advances in techniques for vital tooth bleaching and the media focus on white smiles. Advancements in technology allow us to see color in high definition which makes the public more aware of their appearance and self-conscious of yellow or stained teeth.1 According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, when patients were asked what they would like to improve about their smile it was to have whiter, brighter teeth. Patients also most commonly reported that discolored, yellow or stained teeth are what makes a smile unattractive.2 With the introduction of at-home custom tray bleaching in the late eighties, the tooth whitening industry has grown with more products and procedures demonstrated by current research to be safe and effective options.13 In 2000, a strip-based whitening system was introduced, Crest® Whitestrips™ as a convenient alternative for at-home bleaching rather than using a custom tray. Whitening procedures also can be administered in-office or in combination with at-home methods. In addition, there are over-the-counter (OTC) products, from simple, inexpensive options such as AuraGlow® Teeth Whitening Pen to more advanced products like GLO Lit™ Teeth Whitening Tech Kits. Individuals may purchase these without input from a dental professional and more recently, other non-dental options, such as kiosks in malls and spas have expanded the market for tooth whitening.3