As the holiday season approaches one of the most frequent questions we are asked is, “How can I whiten my teeth?” There are a number of bleaching products available these days. At Art of Cosmetic Dentistry in Buckhead Georgia, we offer two alternatives, custom fit home bleaching trays and Zoom. Zoom! is the name brand of an in office whitening procedure. We have used this particular product for many years, and we have found that it produces consistently beautiful results. While it is advertised to be a 45 minute procedure by the manufacturer, in reality this will be a two hour appointment. When you arrive you will read and sign a lengthy consent form and be photographed. Once you are in the treatment room, a retractor and a gingival barrier will be applied to your mouth. The dental assistant will then apply the Zoom! whitening gel to your teeth and the Zoom! light will be mounted on the tip of the retractor. The light activates the bleaching solution, breaking down the hydrogen peroxide into oxygen that enters the enamel and dentin. This bleaches the colored substances while the structure of the tooth remains unchanged. These sessions last 15 minutes each and there are up to four sessions. At the end of the last session, you will receive aftercare instructions and be photographed again. While the degree of bleaching varies by patient, you can expect to go as much as eight shades lighter in some cases. Zoom is a great alternative for those of us who lack the self discipline to wear home trays. This is perfect for whitening before a holiday party, class reunion, or wedding. Zoom is not recommended for children under 13, pregnant women, or lactating women. Also be aware that dental work does not bleach. While it is perfectly safe to bleach your teeth that does not mean it never causes sensitivity. Some patients will need to utilize fluoride in advance of their procedure and may experience discomfort for up to 24 hours later. There are also restrictions on your food and beverage choices for the first 24 hours. If you are having the Zoom procedure be aware that crowns, veneers, and fillings do not bleach, and will probably need to be replaced to match a significant color change. If you are bleaching prior to dental treatment, be aware that your teeth are dehydrated after the bleaching process and you will need to wait at least 10 days to two weeks to allow the color to be fully settled so that your final shade for your work will be correct. Finally, if you are considering the Zoom procedure, have a dental cleaning prior to the bleaching procedure to ensure the best results.