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Frequently Asked Questions Answered


Published by
SmileLabs, LLC
Written by
Zachary Hilgers, DDS (Retired)
January 25th, 2010
© All Rights Reserved

ABSTRACT

Many different questions from clients have been asked about the teeth whitening process in general, as well as queries that pertain specifically to SmileLABS products and services. This page will act as an FAQ resource, so that potential, as well as new, SmileLABS™ Lab owners, and consumers, will know more about these oft times difficult and perplexing questions.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Don’t you have to be a dentist to whiten teeth?

No, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the use of peroxide for over-the-counter use. Our customers perform the teeth whitening (sometimes called teeth bleaching) procedure on themselves. Since our products are all self-administered, either by the chairside method or by our take home products, it is no different procedurally from what they can perform on their own. We are there to guide them and verbally assist them during the chairside procedure, but we never touch their mouths or teeth, we never give dental advice, and we never represent ourselves as dentists. We do recommend that our customers visit their dentist regularly and if they do not, we will advise them not to whiten their teeth until they have done so.

SmileLABS™ has two methods to do Cosmetic Teeth Whitening. What are they?

SmileLABS™ currently has two methods to whiten teeth. First is our chairside light-accelerated power bleaching system. This method uses our proprietary photosensitive hydrogen peroxide gel, our signature paint-on technique (we do offer a traditional tray-based system if desired), and our SmileLABS™ Infinity Series Accelerator Lights, which allow us to complete a whitening in as little as 15 minutes with an average shade change of 2-4 shades as measured on a standard dental shade guide. This type of process is self-administered, but is assisted by our Authorized Dealers.

The second method we have to offer is take our home whitening kits. These use our proprietary carbamide peroxide gels, offered in moderate and extra strength concentrations, and they also come with our InstaPression™ tray and case, along with complete instructions so that the customer can whiten their teeth at their leisure at home.

The kits are offered in a 1-hour per day for up to 8 eight days treatment regimen with the moderate strength gel, and a half-hour per day for up to 16 days treatment with the extra strength gel. Both kits result in an average color change of 8 or more shades whiter and differ only in the amount of time used each day and the amount of gel that is included with each kit. The moderate strength kit has enough gel for a single treatment regimen, while the extra strength kit has enough gel to treat a single client two or more times over the course of up to two years. The gel in the take home kits has a shelf life of up to two years when kept refrigerated.

 What is the SmileLABS™ Chairside process?

In the chairside treatment, the client is first given a teeth-cleaning swab that they use to remove any plaque from the surface of their teeth. The beginning shade is measured and agreed upon with the use of a mirror and dental shade guide. Then, the client inserts a mouth prop and cheek retractor in their mouth.

Using the gel syringe, a tiny BB-sized droplet of gel is placed by the client on each of their teeth that are to be whitened. The client distributes the the whitening gel on each tooth with a a fine tipped micro brush. The client then relaxes fully against the head rest of the chair and the light is positioned correctly and activated. The client relaxes in the chair with the light on for 15 minutes, at which time the light automatically goes off, the client then rinse their mouth with water.

Double Session - If a second 15-minute session is to be done, the client reapplies fresh gel to their teeth and the process is repeated. After final mouth rinsing, the ending shade is agreed upon and the whitening treatment is complete. Lastly, the client is given post treatment instructions both verbally and written, and the client takes home written post-treatment instructions and recommendations.

Do a lot of people get their teeth whitened?

Cosmetic Teeth Whitening is the #1 requested treatment procedure in a dental office, and is second only to hair treatments in the beauty world. More people than you might imagine have their teeth whitened. A nice bright, white smile can make a big difference in the way a person feels about themselves, and can help boost confidence in almost any social setting.

How long does the SmileLABS™ process take from start to finish?

The chairside teeth whitening treatment process, takes a minimum of about a half hour from start to finish to do a single treatment, and about 50 minutes total time to do a double teeth whitening session.  That includes initial paperwork, pre-treatment prep, and post-treatment finishing and instruction. So, in less than an hour maximum, one can have a whiter smile.

With the take home products, daily teeth whitening treatments are either a half-hour or one hour, depending on which kit is purchased. Then, the time to complete the teeth whitening regimen is from 5-10 days total, depending on the starting shade of the teeth and on the ending level of whiteness that the client desires.

What will I experience during this procedure?

You may feel a slight tingling, bubbling or effervescence against your teeth for the first few minutes. This is normal and is the sign that the gel is producing the oxygen that does the work of bleaching.

Does the SmileLABS™ process cause damage to teeth enamel?

No, research has shown that bleaching your teeth with peroxide-based gels does not harm the enamel of the teeth. This type of bleaching has been done for over twenty years, even with stronger whitening gels than what SmileLABS™ uses, and no damage to enamel has occurred.[i] [ii]

Does SmileLABS™ whitening process or gels do any damage to the nerves in teeth?

No, the scientific literature shows that neither the gel nor the light that SmileLABS™ uses will cause any nerve damage.[iii] [iv] [v]

Does the whitening gels that SmileLABS™ use cause harm to any dental restoration, such as fillings, bonding, crowns, bridges, partials, dentures, veneers, or implants?

Again, professional dental research has shown that this process will not harm currently used dental restorative materials.[vi]

How long will my teeth stay white?

One to two years is possible and depends greatly on the client’s lifestyle and habits. If one drinks a lot of coffee, tea, dark soda, or red wine, or especially if one smokes, the results will not last as long. These individuals may have to repeat the process more often.

Is the SmileLABS™ procedure safe?

Yes. Extensive clinical research and trials have shown that Cosmetic Teeth Whitening is safe.[vii] Many dentists and dental researchers consider this process to be the safest dental or cosmetic procedure available. SmileLABS™ does recommend that no one under the age of 18 years, nor any women that are pregnant or breast feeding, have this procedure done.

Who may benefit from the SmileLABS™ process?

Almost everyone can benefit from having his or her teeth whitened. Treatment results can vary and your Authorized SmileLABS™ Dealer can help clients determine if they are viable candidates for our processes. One should remember that one’s teeth cannot be bleached whiter than their genetically determined base shade. Certain types of staining from antibiotics or excess fluoride may not whiten as much as those without these discolorations.

Who shouldn’t do this process?

SmileLABS™ recommends seeing a dentist first before bleaching to those clients that haven’t seen a dentist in 2 or more years, have open unfilled holes in their teeth, or who have untreated gum disease. Also, as with most elective procedures, we do not recommend Cosmetic Teeth Whitening for any woman that is pregnant or nursing.

Which starting teeth shades respond best to teeth whitening?

In general, if your teeth are stained yellow it will be easier to whiten them. Gray teeth are harder to whiten and don’t respond as well as yellow-stained teeth. If one’s genetically determined base teeth color is yellow (that is, not stained yellow), then those teeth will be considerably harder to bleach white.

Can anyone bleach their teeth so they become “snow-white?”

No. Some people are born with close to snow-white colored teeth, but most have varying shades of yellow, gray, or a combination of both. Cosmetic Teeth Whitening does produce some astounding results, and many will say, “Wow!” after their whitening procedure is completed. The vast majority of SmileLABS™ clients are extremely pleased with their results.

I haven’t seen a dentist in 2 (or more) years. Is it OK for me to proceed today with SmileLABS™ teeth whitening?

No, we recommend seeing a dentist first before beginning a bleaching treatment of any kind. After that amount of time of not seeing a dentist, many unfavorable conditions could exist in a person's mouth, and that person might not even be aware of those problems. When in doubt, always see a dentist first.

I have crowns (caps) or veneers (bonding) on my front teeth. What will this process do to them?

Teeth bleaching will not change any of these restoration's intrinsic (inside) color, however, it may slightly remove some extrinsic (outside) stains. The procedure will not harm dental restorations. If one’s natural teeth are yellower than the restored teeth, then whitening may bring the natural teeth closer in shade to the restored teeth. If the restored teeth are yellower in color, then bleaching will only make the difference in shade greater between them and their naturally colored counterparts. In this case, one may want to bleach their teeth first, then have the restorations redone by their dentist to match the newly bleached color. This, however, can lead to expensive and extensive dental work, so again, consult a dentist first.

I have a temporary crown (or temporary cap, bridge, or veneer) on my teeth. Can I do this process?

No, we recommend that the permanent restorations be placed by the person's dentist before commencing a whitening program.

I have oral piercings or I have braces on my teeth (or a fixed wire retainer). Can I use this teeth whitening process?

If you are in active orthodontic treatment and have bands and/or brackets bonded or cemented to your teeth, please wait until after completion of treatment and all appliances have been removed before commencing any bleaching treatment. A lower tightly bonded lingual (tongue-side) wire retainer that was placed by an orthodontist after regular orthodontic treatment is fine to have in your mouth while bleaching is done.

All oral piercings (tongue, cheeks, lips, or nose) must be removed prior to having any teeth whiting treatments done. If they are not easily removable, we recommend that our Authorized SmileLABS™ Dealers not sell any whitening products or services to these individuals until the appliances are removed.

Can I do this process if I have open holes (cavities) in my mouth that haven’t yet been filled by my dentist?

Again, the answer to this question is that these individuals need to be seen by their dentist first and have the condition permanently resolved prior to any form of teeth whitening or teeth bleaching.

My dentist told me I have gum disease that he hasn’t treated yet. Can I do this?

The condition needs to be treated and under control by a dentist before any teeth bleaching is considered; once under control and with the approval of one’s dentist, teeth whitening could then be done.

Is the process I get from you today being performed by a dentist?

No, the Authorized SmileLABS Dealer is not a dentist or dental professional. He or she has been trained in the SmileLABS™ system and can assist you in the self-administration of our products and services, but will not render dental opinions, give dental advice, or otherwise pose as a dentist or practice dentistry.

Is this the same type of teeth bleaching gel that is used by my family dentist?

Yes, we use the same type of peroxide-based teeth bleaching gels as a dentist, but SmileLABS™ gels may be of a lower strength than what a dentist might  use. We do get the same or better results as a dentist in less time, however, depending on the type of treatment the dentist chooses to use.

Do dentists use SmileLABS™ products or procedures?

Yes, we supply many dentists with our gels, lights, and systems. They do, however, tend to charge more for their use of these products than do our Authorized SmileLab Dealers.

What causes teeth to discolor or become yellower?

The causes are many. The most common are natural aging and the prolonged consumption of staining agents such as tobacco, coffee, tea, red wine, dark-colored soda, and staining foods like mustard, tomato sauce, or blueberries. A good rule to go by is that if it will stain a white handkerchief or white t-shirt, then it may similarly stain your teeth. Other people may have a different type of staining that occurs when the permanent adult teeth are forming, typically at age prenatal through 12. When children of this age group are exposed to excessive fluoride, tetracycline or other antibiotics, certain embedded and permanent stains or discolored tooth formations may occur. These types of “tooth-formation” stains do not respond well to any form of teeth bleaching. These individuals should consult their dentist for other options, such as bonding, veneers, or crowns.

Are there any side effects to having the SmileLABS™ teeth whitening process done?

Some people may feel a slight tingling sensation or have minor discomfort during or after a teeth-whitening session. A few may have white spots, called blanching, on their gums as well. These effects are transient and quickly dissipate with a few minutes or so. Most people report no discomfort or sensitivity at all during or after their SmileLABS™ treatment. Different people react in different ways to chemicals and treatments, and this holds true for Cosmetic Teeth Whitening procedures as well as teeth bleaching products. SmileLABS™ recommends that if a client is experiencing pain or discomfort during the bleaching process, they should discontinue the treatment immediately and consult their dentist as soon as possible as this may indicate an undiscovered or unknown problem that might be occurring in their mouths.

How long before I can eat or drink anything after completing this process?

We recommend that one should avoid eating or drinking any stain-causing foods or beverages (coffee, tea, cola, red wine, dark fruit juices) for at least 24 hours. If you need to drink these beverages during this time, use a straw to avoid a lengthy contact time with your teeth.

How does the SmileLABS™ light differ from the smaller hand-held ones I’ve seen that come with some of the take home kits sold at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, or CVS stores?

For the most part, the light’s wavelength may be approximately the same as ours, but the intensity of these small hand-held lights is much lower and therefore will not work as well or as fast. These lights also come with kits using carbamide peroxide, which does not react as well or as fast as hydrogen peroxide gels do with the addition of a light. The light in this case is more of a gimmick than an actual aid to teeth bleaching, and can help cause the price of these take home kits to be higher than need be.

I have dental insurance. Is the chairside light-assisted SmileLABS™ Cosmetic Teeth Whitening procedure covered by dental insurance?

No. We are not aware of any dental insurance that has a covered benefit for Cosmetic Teeth Whitening.

Has SmileLABS™, or its Authorized SmileLab Dealers, ever been sued by any of its bleaching clients?

No, we never have been sued.

Do Authorized SmileLAB Dealers carry professional liability (malpractice) insurance?

No, our Lab Partners do not carry malpractice insurance. The reason for this is that to have malpractice insurance, one would need to be a licensed dentist or physician. Our Dealers do not “practice” any form of medical or dental procedures. We do, however, recommend that all our Authorized Dealers purchase and carry simple inexpensive business liability insurance, just as any other business would.

Is there any alcohol in SmileLABS™ teeth bleaching gels?

No, there is no alcohol in our teeth bleaching gels.

What if I get sensitivity after using SmileLABS™ Teeth Whitening process or products?

It is our experience that even though it is unlikely that you will have any discomfort from SmileLABS™ teeth whitening, if it does occur, we would recommend the use of a Sensodyne™-type toothpaste be used after bleaching. You could also use over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, if you can take those products safely.

What kind of results can I expect from your process?

Everyone’s teeth are different. We all have different body chemistry, dental health, genetics, etc. Most people will experience a 2-4 shades whiter difference with a 15-minute treatment, and 5-8 shades difference with a double (two back-to-back 15-minute regimens) treatment session. The new multi-session regimen, which is five 15-minute treatments any way the client wants, doing no more than a double in any 24-hour period, over the next six months, may result in more than 8 shades whiter from start to finish. Overall, over 98% of SmileLABS™ clients are absolutely thrilled and ecstatic about their treatment results. The “WOW!” factor is huge.

What makes SmileLABS™ Teeth Whitening procedures and products superior to all other types of teeth whitening that is available today?

We use only the finest Made-in-the-USA bleaching gels manufactured to our proprietary formula. We use a high intensity, cool, blue visible spectrum light that puts off no heat to cause tooth nerve inflammation. Our new SmileLABS™ Brush-On technique utilizes our water based peroxide gel prevents desiccation and keeps the teeth hydrated during bleaching. This hydration also prevents tooth nerve inflammation, which can lead to strong teeth sensitivity. Ours is the only system on the market that combines these three factors to give our clients the best, fastest, and whitest results with virtually no unpleasant side effects.

Is SmileLABS™ better than over-the-counter strips or whitening toothpastes?

If one considers speed of action as a primary desirable feature of a teeth whitening system, then the results obtained with our system are much better than strips or so-called whitening toothpastes. The toothpastes available today have a very minor whitening potential as compared to our system. They only slightly lessen extrinsic, not intrinsic, stains. Strips will whiten teeth, but they take at least a month or more to complete treatment and have a known high occurrence of gum/teeth sensitivity.

What is the shelf life of SmileLABS™ Bleaching gels?

Our chairside teeth whitening gel has a 6 month shelf life when kept refrigerated. Our take home gels’ shelf life is 2 years, if refrigerated.

What do the different percentages of teeth bleaching gels mean?

For example, a 36% carbamide peroxide gel eventually breaks down into a 10-12% hydrogen peroxide in the mouth. It is the eventual hydrogen peroxide concentration that matters because only in this form can it release the oxygen necessary to perform the actual chemical process of bleaching teeth.

Which teeth bleaching gel works the best?

We feel that for fast and safe light-assisted chairside power bleaching, hydrogen peroxide works best. Chairside teeth bleaching is fast because the light accelerates the process and hydrogen peroxide doesn’t need extra time to break down from a buffered form, like carbamide peroxide must do before it can release the oxygen to bleach the teeth.

Carbamide peroxide is best for take home teeth whitening kits because it is more stable and has a longer shelf life. At home teeth whitening is generally not a speedy process to begin with, so the extra time needed to break down in the mouth to a usable form is not as important as in chairside teeth bleaching. Also, with take home kits, there will be more contact time of the gel to the teeth, so there will be plenty of time for carbamide to do its job.

The part of my teeth near the gums isn’t as white as the rest of the teeth even after bleaching. Why is this?

The teeth usually have a seamless whitening transition zone from whiter near the biting surface of the tooth to less white near the gum line. This is normal and is an expected result because the tooth enamel is thinner near the gum line and will show through some of the tooth’s naturally yellower inner dentin layer. It is this slight transition that makes the tooth appear to be more natural and not just a monochrome “Chiclet” of a tooth, which looks very unnatural.

I have small white spots on some of my front teeth. How will bleaching affect these spots?

It is normal that certain areas of a tooth that are decalcified will respond and whiten more rapidly than the surrounding tooth structure. The rest of the tooth eventually catches up with the spots and will become more uniform in color as one continues to bleach.

Will SmileLABS™ Teeth Whitening treatment fix my tetracycline stained teeth?

Tetracycline stained teeth are caused by the uptake of this antibiotic into the enamel while the tooth is newly forming at the ages of prenatal to 12 years. The staining looks like there are grey to tan “banding” layers in the tooth. This type of intrinsic (inside the tooth) striated (horizontally striped) staining is very difficult to correct with Cosmetic Teeth Whitening. We recommend that the customer see his or her dentist to have this staining treated by more extensive, aggressive teeth bleaching or by covering the staining with the placement of veneers or crowns.

I have splotchy teeth with mottled tan, brown, and white spots on them, especially the front ones. Will SmileLABS™ processes repair this?

No, this type of staining is known as fluorosis. It was caused by the uptake into the enamel of excessive amounts of fluoride while the customer’s permanent teeth were forming, again between prenatal to 12 years of age. We recommend that the client seek the advise of their dentist to correct this problem. Cosmetic Teeth Whitening will not help excessively fluorosed teeth.

CONCLUSION

I hope that this paper has helped you in answering what I feel are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding our teeth whitening procedures and products. If you have further questions not answered in this paper, I invite you to contact your SmileLABS™ regional representative, or at our corporate offices by using the Contact Us page.


Cited References


[i] Mielczarek A, Klukowska M, Ganowicz M, Kwiatkowska A, Kwasny M. The effects of strip, tray and office peroxide bleaching systems on enamel surfaces in vitro. Dent Mater 2008 Nov; 24 (11): 1495-500

[ii] Haywood VB, Heymann HO. Nightguard vital bleaching. Quintessence Int 1989; 20:173-6

[iii] Zhao Q, Qang JX, Feng ZH. A pathological study of bleaching technique on vital tooth pulp. Chinese Journal of Stomatology. 2007 Dec; 42 (12): 718-19

[iv] Kuk K, Tam L, Hubert M. Effect of light energy on peroxide tooth bleaching. J Am Dent Assoc. 2004; (135): 194-201

[v] Dederich DN, Bushick RD. Lasers in dentistry: Separating science from hype. J Am Dent Assoc. 2004 Feb; (135): 204-212

[vi] Polydorou O, Hellwig E, Auschill TM. The effect of at-home bleaching on the microhardness of six esthetic restorative materials. J Am Dent Assoc 2007 July; 138 (7) 978-984

[vii] Li Y. Tooth bleaching using peroxide-containing agents: current status of safety issues. Compend Contin Educ Dent 1998 Aug; 19 (8) 783-6, 788, 790, quiz 796

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