Smiles are Valuable

Your smile creates an immediate, lasting impact on the people you meet.  A brighter smile gives the impression of youth, vitality, warmth and happiness.  A brighter, whiter smile is a healthy smile.

Statistics show we place high value on a person’s smile.  Virtually all adults (99.7%) believe a smile is an important social asset.   96% of people feel an attractive smile makes them more appealing to the opposite sex and nearly 75% of adults feel an unattractive smile may negatively impact their chances for career success. 

And when respondents were asked, “What would you like to improve most about your smile?” The most common response was: Whiter & brighter teeth. If you are not happy with your smile, teeth whitening may be a good first step.

Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Deciduous (baby) teeth are typically whiter than the adult teeth that appear after them.  As we age, our adult teeth often darken and become more yellow and stained. This is part of the reason that whiter teeth give a youthful appearance. 

Just as there are a number of ways to lighten or brighten teeth, there are also several different ways for teeth to become discolored. The main causes of darkened teeth are genetics, antibiotics, and certain foods, plus teeth tend to darken as we age. Internal tooth discoloration is caused by changes in the enamel of the tooth and the dentin. The main causes of internal tooth discoloration are exposure to high levels of fluoride, tetracycline, use of antibiotics as a child, developmental disorders, tooth decay, restorations, root canal issues, and trauma.

External tooth discoloration is caused by factors outside the body, mainly foods and tobacco. The main causes of external tooth yellowing are smoking, foods with tannins, coffee, tea, carrots, oranges, and other foods.

Types of Teeth Whitening

There are many ways to whiten your teeth, but the two most common are dentist-supervised teeth whitening and the “do-it-yourself” approach with over the counter products.

Over the Counter Tooth Whitening Systems

Commercially available tooth whitening systems have become popular, mainly because they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to use.

There are a few over-the-counter tooth-whitening methods that can be purchased without your dentist’s supervision. They include whitening strips, paint-on tooth gel, mouth trays with gel, whitening toothpaste, and even whitening gum. These are typically safe products, but if you have oral concerns, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist if these products are safe to use.

While over-the-counter tooth whitening products are available, dentist-supervised tooth whitening remains the safest, most effective method for brightening your smile.

Dentist-Supervised Whitening

The effectiveness of whitening systems depends mainly on two factors:  the percentage of bleaching agent used and the amount of time that bleaching agent is kept on the teeth.  For that reason, dentist-supervised whitening systems get the best results.

Dr. Christopher Aldrich and Waterloo Dental Associates offer two different options for whitening.  The first is professional strength whitening strips that contain a higher percentage of bleaching agents than over the counter products.


Professionally Made Mouth Trays

Dr. Aldrich has found the most safe and effective way to whiten teeth is done through professionally made bleaching trays with a prescription strength whitening gel.  Trays are made in two simple appointments.  At the first appointment, upper and lower impressions are made so the soft trays can be fabricated.  At the second appointment, the trays are delivered and instructions for bleaching given. 

If you are interested in making your appear more youthful, vibrant and healthy, contact Dr. Christopher Aldrich at Waterloo Dental Associates.


****The majority of text and pictures was obtained from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Website****


The following are instructions for bleaching tray use: 


Usage Instructions for Professional Dental Whitening Gel

It is important that you apply the teeth whitening gel properly so you do not waste any of the gel and that you experience the least amount of sensitivity while using the gel.

1. Prior to Treatment:

Brush and floss just prior to bleaching your teeth. The whitening gel is the most effective with clean teeth. Try the trays in first without any beach to check the fit and comfort. Make sure that the bleaching trays are clean and dry before applying the whitening gel. Moisture reduces the efficiency of the whitening gel and slows down the whitening process

2. Applying the Bleaching Gel:

When you apply the gel make sure not to fill the trays. Place a SMALL drop of tooth whitening gel half way up on the inner front surface of tray (in the front of each tooth in the tray). Do not spread the bleach around. Recap the syringe for next treatment until empty. The average treatment per arch requires approximately 0.5ml of whitening gel. We recommend that you only bleach the front 8-10 teeth.  We also recommend that you start by bleaching only your upper teeth in order to see the results you’re obtaining.  After using approximately 4 syringes of bleaching gel, start bleaching your bottom teeth as well.

3. Inserting the Bleaching Trays:

Insert whitening tray in the mouth over the teeth. Seat the tray firmly against the teeth. Wipe the excess gel, which seeps over the brim of the tray onto your gums, by holding the tray up with one hand, wipe the excess gel off of the gums with your finger or tissue. Wear the tray with the gel as directed below.

4. Wearing Time:

We recommend that if you have not whitened before, use for 30 minutes to 1 hour the first time and increase the wearing time if there is little or no tooth sensitivity.

General manufacturers recommended wearing times are:

For Carbamide Peroxide Bleaching Gels:

  • 10%, 15% or 16% strength can be used 2 to 4 hours once or twice/day or overnight while sleeping if no sensitivity
  • 20-22% bleaching gel: use for 30 minutes to 1 hour once or twice per day (do not exceed 1 hr/application).


5. After Whitening:

Remove the tray and rinse off your teeth. Brush any remaining gel away. Brush, floss and continue routine dental cleaning.

6. Caring for Your Trays and Gel:

Clean whitening trays with a toothbrush or Q-tip and cold water. Store trays in the tray holder and gel in cool dry place away from heat and direct sunlight. The gel may be refrigerated to prolong the shelf life, but do not freeze.

DENTAL WHITENING GEL CAN BE REFRIGERATED FOR LONG TERM STORAGE. Shelf life is 1 year un-refrigerated and 2 years refrigerated. These are general recommendations and may vary between manufacturers. Please read the manufacturer’s instructions. Use only in accordance with these instructions.


  • As an average, optimum results are achieved after 20-30 cumulative sessions of wear-time
  • Longer wear times create faster whitening results
  • Faster results can be achieved with higher concentrations of Carbamide Peroxide.
  • 50% of the bleaching takes place in the first 1-2 hours.
  • Waterloo Dental Associates has desensitizing gel for purchase if teeth are very sensitive.
  • Refills of the bleaching gel may be purchased at any time. Because teeth stain over time, bleaching often needs to be refreshed, often once per year.

Conduct your whitening session once per day until desired level of whitening is attained.


If you have any questions, please call Dr. Aldrich at 319-233-3506