As we commonly say in Chicago, there are two seasons: Winter, and Teeth Whitening. As the weather starts to warm, more folks start asking about whitening their teeth. There are lots of reasons to want a bright smile – graduations, weddings, al fresco dining, barbecue and beach parties, and special events. Or, maybe we just notice that our teeth don’t quite look as bright in our warm-weather colors.
Whatever the reason, professional teeth whitening is one of the most affordable and noticeable ways to transform your smile – in just one appointment. It’s not surprising that so many people choose to have their teeth whitened at our office.
The Zoom Whitening Procedure: Whiter Teeth in 3 Easy Steps!
There are a few common professional teeth whitening systems. At 1st Family Dental, we offer Zoom® laser teeth whitening treatment. So what is Zoom teeth whitening, and how does it work? We’ve curated a very short video that explains the Zoom whitening procedure in 3 steps, and what you can expect at the office.
If video isn’t your thing (or if watching a video in your current location is a big No-No), read on for a quick synopsis.
Step 1: Get Ready
Zoom teeth whitening is an in-office procedure. The Zoom whitening procedure itself takes about an hour, but expect the entire appointment, including the exam, to take about 90 minutes, give or take. Before the Zoom procedure, you’ll need to fill out a few pages of paperwork about the Zoom procedure. If we’ve never seen you before as a patient, you’ll also be asked to complete new patient paperwork, which may take a few extra minutes. Next, you’ll have a quick exam to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy enough for whitening, and to check if you have any dental restorations like bridges or crowns. If you haven’t had a cleaning recently, you may need to get one. (In fact, if it’s been some time since your last professional dental cleaning, we suggest a full dental cleaning BEFORE investing in whitening because some quality time with the cavitron to remove surface stains and calculus may make a major difference). Once everything is in order, we’ll make a note of your current tooth shade so that we can track your progress through your whitening sessions.
Step 2: Get Whitened
The actual Zoom whitening procedure starts with protecting your gums and soft tissue. Translation: we put in cheek retractors and enough cotton rolls to keep your top and bottom teeth from touching each other. If Mr. Ed is your spirit animal, or you get a kick out of watching Melissa McCarthy blow bubbles with horsey teeth, then you’re in luck. If not, well, it’s a necessary evil. It’ll be over soon enough, and the results will be worth it. Protip: Bring Chapstick. Next, we paint a protective layer on your gums. The whitening agent used in Zoom is powerful, so it’s important to be thorough in this step.
Once that’s done, we put a layer of the Zoom whitening agent on your teeth (front surfaces only), and set the laser light in front of your teeth. You’ll sport some spiffy orange safety glasses for this portion of the program. Once the whitening starts, we set the clock for 15 minutes and hand you the remote to enjoy your favorite programming (or politely pretend not to notice you taking that selfie). A full Zoom whitening procedure consists of 4, 15-minute sessions. Don’t worry, we’ll be around to check on you regularly, in case you need anything.
On Zingers: We mentioned a little earlier that the whitening agent in Zoom is powerful. In order to do its job, the whitening agent temporarily dissolves a very thin layer that covers your enamel, called the “pellicle.” That layer is what protects your teeth from being overly sensitive to everyday activities. Some people experience “zingers” during their whitening sessions. Zingers are aptly named, and can feel like small electric shocks around your teeth and gums. They bother some folks more than others, and the effect of zingers can usually be muted by taking some ibuprofen before your appointment. Check with your dentist first, though.
Step 3: Go Turn Heads
After each session, we may add more whitening agent, or adjust the light. We’ll check the progress to see how your teeth are doing. Some sessions go so well that some folks choose to end early so their teeth don’t get blindingly white. Others will go the full hour. When your time is up, we’ll wash all of the gunk out of your mouth, give your lips some time transition from Wallace-esque back to normal, and hand you the mirror to admire the results. While we can’t guarantee a particular result or shade, many patients see a change of 2 to 3 shades, and notice a big difference.
On your way out the door with your gorgeous smile, we’ll hand you a list about a mile long with food, drink, and vices to avoid for the next 48 hours. We don’t want to depress you so we won’t tell you everything that’s on the list, but if it’s red, dark, spicy, or savory, you probably can’t eat or drink it. And absolutely no smoking, we mean it. That pellicle we mentioned earlier also protects your teeth from surface staining, and it takes about 48 hours to grow it back. We suggest getting your teeth whitened early in the week, so that you won’t be tempted over the weekend.
You may also opt to have a custom tray created from an impression of your teeth, so you can whiten between office visits with Zoom take-home gel. Zoom teeth whitening won’t last forever, but it can last for years, and the best way to get the most out of your investment is to keep up with your regular dental check-up and cleaning visits, as well as your at home routine of brushing and flossing.
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