How Does In-Office Teeth Bleaching Work?

Teeth Whitening Mountain View, CA

In-office teeth bleaching, also commonly known as chairside bleaching, is a popular cosmetic dental procedure. It often takes place under carefully monitored conditions. This allows for the controlled use of a relatively high concentration of bleaching gel. It often yields results that are visible immediately.

In-office teeth bleaching

When it comes to teeth-whitening procedures, many people opt for in-office teeth bleaching. Both chairside bleaching and at-home bleaching involve the use of peroxide-based bleaching agents. In-office systems often contain a higher percentage of peroxide. The longer a stronger whitening solution is kept on the teeth, the whiter they become. But if the solution has a higher percentage of peroxide, it should be applied for a shorter duration.

Keeping the gel on longer can have a negative impact. It can increase tooth sensitivity and even dehydrate the tooth. Even though the details of the in-office bleaching procedure may vary, a fairly standard routine is often followed. Here is what the procedure involves.

The in-office bleaching procedure

A cheek retractor will be inserted in the patient’s mouth. It will help expose all the teeth that are visible when a person smiles. A liquid rubber dam or hardening resin will be painted onto the gum tissue. This is meant to protect against any irritation that can be caused by the bleaching gel. A bleaching gel that contains hydrogen peroxide will be applied to the teeth. It will be kept on for a couple of minutes.

The bleaching gel will be washed off or suctioned. Fresh gel will then be applied for one or more additional periods of about 15 to 30 minutes. Some teeth-whitening treatments involve the use of intense light. It is often focused on the teeth in order to enhance or activate the bleaching process. Between gel applications, the patient’s teeth are checked to determine how well they have whitened. This will also help the oral health care provider to decide if more bleach needs to be applied.

The cheek retractors will be removed after the final gel application. The patient will then rinse before the immediate post-treatment shade change is measured. The patient’s teeth may end up whitening by two to three shades or as many as eight shades. Part of the whitening effect is attributed to dehydration during the bleaching process. This can make the teeth look whiter than their true new color.

That color will emerge after a few days. If the desired level of whitening is not achieved, the dentist will suggest follow-up in-office teeth bleaching. This will be at a future date. The dentist may also recommend a regimen of take-home bleaching trays.


Teeth whitening done by an oral health care provider can brighten teeth faster. The bleaching solution is often stronger compared to at-home kits. Light, heat or a combination of the two can also intensify and speed up the whitening process. If you have any questions about in-office teeth bleaching as well as the other options, talk to your dentist. You should also inquire about the cost. This is important because costs vary from one dentist to another.

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