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Teeth Whitening Treatments

Teeth whitening has never been more effective or affordable

About the author, Dr. Stella Kim

The materials on this page were prepared and medically reviewed by Dr. Stella Kim, DDS, a San Francisco dentist and a graduate of the UCSF School of Dentistry.

How to Choose a Teeth Whitening Treatment

There are many options out there today, most of the highly effective. It all depends on your preferences:

  • Quickest results? Consider Zoom! one-visit whitening
  • Deep-seated stains? KöR can attack stains other systems can’t
  • *Most cost-effective? Traditional at-home bleach trays are effective and affordable

In addition to reading about the treatments below, we encourage you to explore our patient education articles on teeth whitening:

KöR® Whitening Deep Bleaching

What it is

KöR® whitening is one of the most effective, reliable ways to whiten your teeth. It combines an in-office treatment with take-home trays to give you results that are head-and-shoulders above any other whitening solution. KöR® can even help remove stains caused by antibiotics—something no other whitening system can do.

If you’ve tried other bleaching solutions but haven’t been happy with the results, then you should consider KöR®.

Whitening process

The first step in the KöR® process is to create custom-fitted trays for your teeth. The sfdental team will take an impression and order your trays, which you’ll wear for about two weeks at home. Next, you’ll come for the in-office deep bleaching, which takes about an hour.

How it works

Unlike other bleaching systems, KöR® works by increasing your teeth’s natural ability to absorb oxygen. The oxygen then bonds to stain molecules and dissolves them.

The initial at-home portion of the procedure removes any surface stains. At your follow-up visit, we prime your teeth to be susceptible to the oxygen cleaning. We also apply a desensitizing gel that makes KöR® much less painful than other teeth whitening solutions. Following the procedure, you’ll see an immediate, dramatic change in the color of your teeth.

Zoom! Teeth Whitening

What it is

Our most popular option, Zoom! uses proprietary technology by Philips to whiten your teeth in a single visit—start to finish—while you relax in our office. You get better results than at-home trays and you don’t have to remember to do anything. What could be more convenient?

Whitening process

The procedure takes about two hours. At the start of your visit, we place protective barriers around your lips and gums, then apply the Zoom! whitening gel to your teeth. We then use a special type of LED light to activate the whitening reagent. During the procedure, you can watch videos or listen to music.

How it works

Zoom! works through the use of a light-activated hydrogen peroxide reagent. As the reagent is broken down, it enters the enamel and dentin layers of the teeth, bleaching any colored substance while keeping the structure unchanged.

If you have sensitive teeth

Zoom! sometimes causes sensitivity issues for a few days following the procedure, so let us know ahead of time if this is a concern. We can provide you with sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne or MI Paste (PDF) for the days following treatment. Alternatively, you may want to consider KöR® instead, which does not cause as much sensitivity.

At-Home Bleach Trays

What it is

At-home whitening is popular because of the low cost and quick setup time. You won’t see results that are as dramatic as you would with more rigorous whitening solutions, but you can usually get fitted at sfdental in less than an hour.

Installation process

When you come into the office, we take an impression of your teeth to make a precise-fitting tray. This tray holds the dental whitening bleach in place. After taking the impression, it takes 1–2 days to prepare your custom bleach trays. Once your trays are ready we will contact you. When you come to pick them up, Dr. Kim will also provide the bleaching agent you need to go with the trays.

How it works

When you first start at-home whitening, you will use your bleaching trays 3–4 hours a night for 1–2 weeks. When your teeth reach the desired brightness, only occasional use of the bleaching trays is needed to maintain your new smile. Most patients “freshen up” their smiles by reusing their bleaching trays every 4 to 6 months.