Chairside tooth whitening, as opposed to at-home whitening, is the name of the professional tooth-whitening procedure offered at your child’s regular pediatric dentist.  There is no question that chairside whitening is the gold-standard of tooth whitening procedures.  Also called “in-office whitening,” this is the safest, most professional way to attain your child’s most appealing smile.

Dentistry for Children welcomes you to Part Three of our coverage of this hot topic in children’s dentistry.  Be sure to check out Part One of our coverage and read about at-home products and red-flags.

Chairside Whitening and Self Confidence

At Dentistry for Children, we realize the popularity of the attractive, shiny white smile.  Because we specialize in children, we also understand the psychology behind the power of peer pressure, especially at the adolescent level.

Whitening teeth can make confidence glow.

Smiling with confidence from her tooth-whitening experience.

Likewise, we comprehend the ugly side of peer pressure, bullying.  Any feature that is unusual can provoke both peer pressure and bullying.  Your child might be coping with these attitudes at school.

What we are sharing here is that your child’s needs might go a little deeper than his or her desire for a whiter smile.  He or she might need to talk with parents or counselors about his or her lack of self-confidence or their relationship with their school friends.

That being said, we have seen a wonderful effect on children and adolescents who have taken the chairside tooth-whitening treatment here in Orlando at Dentistry for Children.  After chairside whitening, a child who feels like he or she must hide their teeth is suddenly free of embarrassment.

Getting A Positive Glow

Chairside whitening might give a child just enough of a boost to his or her confidence to feel more comfortable in speaking situations.  Consequently, he or she becomes quicker to talk, smile and laugh.  Thus, this cosmetic dental procedure has the effect of brightening not only teeth and smiles, but self-confidence and personality.

Chairside Whitening:  the Number One Cosmetic Dental Procedure for Maximum Effect

Without a doubt, chairside whitening is currently the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in the world.  It is also the most professional.

You are probably aware that home use systems are full of low-dose bleaching agents.  In contrast, in-office whitening utilizes a relatively high concentration of bleaching gel.  But parents should not be alarmed.  The dentist has special equipment and protocols to make this very safe, very pain-free, and cautiously controlled.  From your child’s point of view, the best part about it will be that the results are immediately noticeable.

A Special Note about Gum and Tooth Sensitivity

In the early days of this procedure, the biggest drawback to it was a certain amount of gum and tooth sensitivity.

However, today, we have more are more control over this symptom.  We use thicker peroxide gels.  They do not soak into the sensitive points.  Plus, we have desensitizers like fluoride and potassium nitrate. 

First Priorities:  Health before Beauty–The Oral Exam and Cleaning

First, the dentist will clean and examine the teeth.  He might test the sensitivity of your child’s teeth, using a little spray of air on each tooth.

He might have previously painted the teeth with a desensitizing agent.  Of course, Dr. King will examine the teeth for cracks, decay and any other problems that might be leading to the discoloration.  Please check the previous blog, Part 2 of our coverage of teeth-whitening, for more essential facts about teeth discoloration and conditions that might disqualify your child for this procedure.

The teeth should also be professionally cleaned.  He will use a shade guide and tell you what your number is on a scale of 1-16.  This becomes important later.

The Steps of Chairside Whitening — A Journey to Glow On

  1. He will insert a cheek retractor gently into your child’s mouth.  This exposes all teeth that are visible when a child reveals his or her smile. (Okay, this is not pretty, but it is comfortable and protective of delicate mouth and gum tissues.  It looks a little frightening in photos and on videos, but it does not cause pain.)

    Chairside Whitening looks sci-fi, but doesn't cause pain.

    Chairside Tooth Whitening process uses special professional equipment.

  2. Next Dr. King will coat the gums precisely with a liquid rubber dam.  A liquid rubber dam or hardening resin is painted onto the gum tissue to protect against any irritation caused by the bleaching gel.  He will use a shade-guide to judge the color of the teeth, and grade them between 1 and 16 of the total shades.
  3. The doctor meticulously applies the professional strength bleaching gel where it stays 15 to 30 minutes.
  4. After the waiting period, the doctor suctions it off or washes it away.  It might be necessary to re-apply it another 15-30 minutes to obtain optimal whitening.
  5. The bleaching gel is suctioned or washed off, and fresh gel is applied for one or more additional periods of 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. He finally shines an intense, strange-looking light on the teeth.  This is very strange and sci-fi looking.  It is not painful.  And it fascinates the children.   At last, he will remove the cheek retractors and rinse the beautifully whitened teeth.

The Great Chairside Reveal

Following the treatment, there is always great excitement.  Dr. King will use a shade guide to see the level of whiteness that has been achieved.

Chairside Whitening shows results in 16 gradiated shades.

A Shade Guide Helps Gauge the Whiting Effect.

Typically teeth whiten up from 2-3 shades, but some whiten up to 8 shades on a 16 shade scale.  Keep in mind that a part of the effect is due to dehydration during the bleaching period, which actually makes the teeth look whiter than their true new color.  After 2-3 days, you can see the true new color.

This treatment might require a follow-up in the future, or perhaps your child will be able to take home a kit and a small device for low dose whitening at home to boost the effect over time.  Whiter teeth might seem like a small detail in the bold strokes of daily life, but to your child, it might be imbued with a new glow of self-confidence and better social skills.

And you will have the satisfaction, knowing that the process has been done with maximum safety and the best training and technology available today.