The Wonderful World of Teeth Whitening

Hal Stewart, DDS


Figure 1.

Almost everyone would love to have a whiter and brighter smile. In fact, per the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, tooth whitening is now the No. 1-requested cosmetic service. Outside of the dental office, it is every bit as popular, with Americans spending more than $1 billion annually on over-the-counter teeth-whitening products.
Teeth whitening is a wonderful service that can be almost completely staff-driven, making it fun and profitable for the office while offering an affordable, conservative, valued service to patients. UltradentProducts, an industry leader in whitening products, offers 3 products: Opalescence PF, Boost, and Opalescence Go.

Case Study
Paul and his daughter Emma (Figure 1) had always wanted to have whiter, brighter smiles. Paul was on a limited budget but found the value of whitening to be worth the minimal expense when compared to porcelain or resin veneers. He decided that he would treat Emma and himself and have their smiles whitened together.
Paul’s teeth were whitened utilizing Opalescence PF, a carbamide peroxide formulation with potassium nitrate and fluoride. The potassium nitrate reduces sensitivity; the fluoride helps prevent against caries and also increases enamel strength. Opalescence PF is offered in 4 strengths/percentages of carbamide peroxide along with suggested daily wear times: 35%–worn 30 minutes/day for 10 days; 20%–worn 2 to 4 hours/day for 10 days; 15%–worn 4 to 6 hours/day for 10 days; and 10%–worn 6 to 8 hours/day for 10 days.

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Paul was seen a few days earlier and had accurate alginate impressions taken of both upper and lower teeth. Custom-made whitening trays were then made from Ultradent’s Regular (.034-in) SoftTrays using the miniSTAR (Scheu Dental/Great Lakes Orthodontics). The margins of the whitening trays were extended onto the gingival margins approximately 1.0 mm to create a seal.
We prefer the “low and slow” technique: Opalescence 10% applied to custom trays, then worn overnight for 10 days to 2 weeks. Paul was instructed to apply the trays nightly after brushing and flossing and to wear them overnight while sleeping. In just 10 days, Paul’s teeth whitened considerably, from A4 to and A1 (Figures 2 to 5).
Emma chose a whitening procedure utilizing Opalescence Boost, a 40% hydrogen peroxide formulation that also contains potassium nitrate and fluoride. During an in-office procedure, it is applied in up to four 20-minute sessions. We found that 2 sessions are usually enough to provide satisfactory results. Emma was very happy with the increase in whiteness after just two 20-minute sessions; she went from A1 to Om1 (Figures 6 to 9).
A third option, not pictured in this article, is Opalescence Go, a hydrogen peroxide formulation prepackaged in a unique one-size-fits-all tray that covers molar to molar. Inexpensive, easy, and convenient, it comes in a box of 10 and is offered in 3 hydrogen peroxide options: 6%–worn 60 to 90 minutes; 10%– worn 30 minutes; and 15%, worn 15 to 20 minutes.

Figure 10.

Paul and Emma (Figure 10) are just 2 of many happy patients that have had their smiles brightened with Opalescence PF and Boost. These products are safe and predictable, and they provide consistently beautiful results for our patients. Our staff-driven whitening center is both profitable and fun while providing our patients with an affordable and valuable service.
For more information, call Ultradent Products at (800) 552-5512 or visit