Teeth Whitening – How Does It Work & Is it Safe?

Dr. Sayeg was one of the first dentists in the country to offer Teeth Whitening to patients 1989 when Omni International introduced their liquid product “White and Bright”. Before this product was available, the only way to whiten your teeth would have been to place full crowns on your teeth, so this was a revolutionary time in dentistry! Since then Dr. Sayeg has helped countless patients get their whitest smile in a safe, low cost way!

Brief history of Teeth Whitening

The idea of Teeth Whitening or Bleaching as it was called, began in the late 1960’s when Dr. John Munro noticed a carbamine peroxide product he was using to treat irritated gums also whitened the teeth. He noticed a lightening effect on the tetracycline stained teeth which were in contact with the gel. In 1986, he presented his observations to a manufacturer (Omni International) to introduce the first commercial bleaching agent (White and Brite) in 1989.

Although the materials are similar, the techniques have changed over the past 30 years. In the early days, it was recommended to have a patient sleep in the tray and only do the upper or lower arch at a time. It took 3 weeks on the upper and three weeks on the lower. Imagine having to wait 6 weeks for your teeth to become white! It also often caused sensitivity to wear the tray so long and often the patient lost interest after a few weeks.

Around the same period, Dr. Ronald Goldstein helped popularize in-office teeth whitening using 30% superoxol along with the union Broach heat lamp. We got good results as long as we were careful not to burn the lips or fry the pulp from the heat lamp. Talk about sensitivity!

Currrently, we are still using mainly Carbamine Peroxide. However, the techniques and materials have been developed so we can get optimal results in only 2 weeks and only thirty minute per day with Home Whitening.


We have also found that the majority of patients would prefer In-Office Teeth Whitening (Zoom) if cost was not a factor. In about an hour and a half, patients see the same results as two weeks of home whitening. New developments have been made to the lights used in this procedure and we find there is less sensitivity since we can block out any exposed roots.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

What has not changed since the 60’s is how teeth whitening works. The object of any whitening agent is to release oxygen in concentration high enough to penetrate the stained tubules of the teeth and remove the internal discoloration. It only works on your natural teeth, and not on crowns or other restorations.

We now have a host of products to help you maintain your white smile for many years. We are using amorphous calcium phospate (ACP) used in combination with carbamine peroxide to not only whiten the teeth but help re-mineralize and strengthen the teeth at the same time.

This process of oxygen being released into the tubules of the teeth can cause some sensitivity since the tubules are now more exposed to temperature changes. To help with the sensitivity, we now use a higher concentration of oxygen releasing solution for a shorter duration, followed by the recent addition of 3 to 5% Potassium Nitrate. The potassium ions block the synapse between nerve cells, reducing nerve excitation and the associated pain.

Which is best for you?

After doing thousands of cases of whitening over the past 30 years, Dr. Sayeg at Start Smiling Dental has developed techniques to help you get a white smile with the least amount of sensitivity possible.

If you have areas of sensitivity or recessed gums, we recommend Zoom In-Office Whitening. With In-Office Whitening, we can better control the solution and block out the sensitive areas. Also, should you have sensitivity after the procedure, it will only be for one night versus two weeks. We also prefer In-Office Whitening for our patients with crowns and other restorations on the front teeth. We can better control the amount of whitening gel on each tooth individually and only whiten a little lighter than their existing restorations, so that you have a nice evenly white smile!

For those patients who do not have any crowns or restorations and need to whiten all their teeth, Home Whitening is a great option. If you don’t mind taking a couple of weeks and wearing your trays about 30 minutes a day, the results will be the same as In-Office Whitening.

If you have any further questions about Teeth Whitening, or would like a free consultation to see it it’s right for you, give us a call at 404-255-6782!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.