Teeth Whitening

Whitening your teeth is one of the easiest dental procedures, and it can help erase years of stains on your teeth. This is a popular dental procedure because it helps improve your appearance and self confidence quickly and easily.

Types of Stains

Teeth have two main types of stain. Extrinsic stains are stains that are caused by substances that come into contact with the exterior surface of the enamel of teeth. Things such as coffee, tea, smoking, red wine, and certain foods can cause staining on the exterior surfaces of the teeth. Over time these satins accumulate and the teeth begin to appear darker. Fortunately these extrinsic stains respond very well to teeth whitening, and our office offers professional strength dental teeth whitening using a concentrated solution of hydrogen peroxide. We make custom designed trays to fit your teeth here at our dental office in Nashville. The fit of the trays is checked by our dentist, and we show you how to use the teeth whitening solution.

Intrinsic stains are another type of stain that discolors teeth. These types of stains are caused by darkening of the tissues on the inside of the teeth. Factors such as genetics, age, and certain medications contribute to intrinsic staining of the teeth. Treating this type of tooth discoloration can be more difficult, and a combination of in office teeth whitening and at home whitening may be required to obtain your desired result. Dr. McGee and his staff can help you determine which types of stain you have, and help you develop a treatment plan to whiten your teeth.

Teeth Sensitivity

A side effect of teeth whitening can be tooth sensitivity. This will vary from person and is often not noticed at all. Our professional strength teeth whitening products contain an ingredient that helps reduce tooth sensitivity. This has allowed our patients to complete the teeth whitening process with little or no sensitivity. If you do experience tooth sensitivity during the teeth whitening procedure, simply reducing the frequency of application of the teeth whitening solution will often reduce the sensitivity, and allow you to complete the whitening process.


Depending on the types of stains on the teeth, most patients can expect to see results within a week or 10 days. For many types of extrinsic stains cause by coffee, tea, or smoking, the results may be even faster. Every individual is different, but patients can expect to see an improvement in their smile anywhere from 2 to 6 shades whiter.


Patients often ask us how long they can expect the teeth whitening results to last. The longevity of the results is often dependent on personal habits. Someone who, let's say, drinks several cups of coffee every day, will stain the teeth again and will require a "touch up" teeth whitening procedure more frequently than someone who doesn't drink as much coffee. The good news is that maintenance teeth whitening is a much shorter process than the initial teeth whitening procedure, and often only requires a few applications.

Effects on dental work

Patients often ask us if teeth whitening will work on dental work. Unfortunately, dental work will not respond to teeth whitening. Dental work such as tooth colored fillings, porcelain crowns, and porcelain veneers do not whiten. This is an important consideration that you should discuss with your dentist because the teeth whitening procedure may produce a significant difference in tooth color between a natural tooth and a tooth with a porcelain crown or tooth colored filling. If the teeth are visible, you may have to electively replace the dental work to match your new whiter teeth. Again, this is a conversation that you should have with your dentist prior to beginning any teeth whitening.

One final note... Dr. McGee advises his patients to begin the teeth whitening procedure just after having a routine dental cleaning. This is because your dentist will examine your teeth and make sure that you have no cavities or active gum disease which can be agrivated by the teeth whitening process. Additionally, your teeth will have just been cleaned professionally by our dental hygienists, and all the plaque and tartar will have been removed. This will allow the teeth whitening solution to have the maximum effect because nothing will interfere with it coming into contact with the tooth enamel.

Only a dentist can determine which types of stains are affecting your teeth, and can help you decide on which teeth whitening option is best for you.