What ingredients are in tooth whitening?

Depending on the method chosen to whiten your teeth, the ingredients may differ. The active agent that actually whitens teeth is either 1) carbamide peroxide or 2) hydrogen peroxide. A thickening agent of glycerin, glycol, or glycerol helps to contain the whitening agent to stay on your teeth instead of spilling onto unintended areas such as the gums. All of the thickening agents have a drying effect on the teeth. The drying effect may lead to discomfort such as temperature sensitivity but will not inhibit the health of your teeth. To counteract the drying effect of thickening agents, some thickening agents are water-based which work to re-hydrate the teeth. Since tooth whitening may lead to sensitivity, some methods, but not all, may contain desensitizing agents of fluoride, potassium nitrate, or chitosan. In addition, some brands have flavoring additives to improve the whitening experience.

Will teeth whitening work for everyone?

Teeth whitening will not whiten crowns, veneers, or fillings. Teeth stained with tetracycline may take longer than normal to whiten and the result may not be as drastic. In addition, moderate to heavy use of products such as coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco may eliminate any effects of tooth whitening. Furthermore, since teeth are more porous for about three days after bleaching and thus are more susceptible to teeth staining products, patients should refrain from those products during bleaching.

What causes teeth sensitivity?

The main disadvantage of teeth whitening is short term temperature sensitivity. As mentioned above, thickening agents in whitening gels may dehydrate the teeth and as a result, the teeth may be sensitive to thermal changes in the oral environment. In addition, some patients just have sensitive teeth. Studies have shown that when most patients complain of teeth sensitivity after whitening, the main reason is due to sore gums and not teeth sensitivity. It may be difficult for some patients to differentiate between teeth sensitivity and gum sensitivity. However, with careful patient screening, use of new generation whitening materials, and properly fabricated whitening trays, the incidents of dental sensitivity have decreased dramatically.

What are the common reasons for teeth sensitivity?

Poor fitting whitening tray may irritate the gums and allow the whitening gel to migrate off the teeth and onto the gums. Wearing a tray for several hours increases the time for the whitening gel to migrate to the margins of the gums and thus causing irritation of the gums.

Wearing a tray for several hours at a time increases the dehydration of teeth. Too much whitening gel in the trays causing an overflow onto the gums. No desensitizers in the bleaching gel.

What occurs during my first visit?

The initial appointment is not only an opportunity for you to meet the dental staff, but also for us to get to know you, the new patient. This will be the first of many opportunities for you to express any concerns and to have your questions answered. We will perform a complete exam and start a record of your dental history which will include information such as x-rays, dental discomforts, and existing dental health. This will assist us in developing a comprehensive treatment plan designed to meet your dental needs. For your first visit, we appreciate you arriving 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment in order to fill out a health history questionnaire and a patient registration form.

Will I have a dental cleaning on my first visit?

Depending on your periodontal and overall health, we may or may not start or complete a dental cleaning on your first visit. Most patients will receive a cleaning on their first visit. However, health conditions or other circumstances may prevent the initiation of dental cleaning. We will perform a comprehensive oral evaluation to determine what type of cleaning is necessary.

Do you take insurance?

We accept all insurance plans except DSHS coupons. We are a preferred provider for Delta Dental, Premera and Regence insurance companies. We will try to coordinate with your insurance company in getting a break down of your dental benefits. If you have any questions regarding your specific coverage, we recommend contacting your coverage provider or your employer’s human resource department to have your insurance questions answered.

What is the range in ages of patients you see?

We see patients of all ages.

I still have other question(s), who should I contact?

Please feel free to contact our office and Debbie or Barb will be delighted to assist you with any questions you may have. Our office number is (425) 228 1620.


Selecting a dental office can be a difficult and intimidating decision for anyone. It is with great satisfaction to have the trust and endorsement of our patients. Our dental team acknowledges and thanks our loyal patients for their continued support and referrals.

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A beautiful smile makes a lasting first impression

Steve C Yang, DDS

Renton General Dentistry