Everything You Need to Know about Teeth Whitening: A Patient’s Guide

teeth whitening Overland Park

Interested in achieving a brighter, whiter smile? Want to wipe away years of yellowing and staining? Teeth whitening in Overland Park can provide you with what you want. Not sure what tooth whitening entails? Not sure why you should choose KC Smile as your cosmetic dentist of choice in Overland Park? We will walk you through everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide to tooth whitening.

What Is Teeth Whitening All About and Why Is It Considered Cosmetic Dentistry?

It is understandable to be a bit confused about what teeth whitening is all about. It seems simple enough, but there are so many “systems” and products available that it can be daunting trying to decide how to move forward.

Essentially, all systems and products have one goal – to make your teeth whiter. And, at least to some extent, they all do. The only real questions are how well they whiten your teeth and how risky they are to use.

The tooth whitening solutions available to you today vary greatly, ranging from over the counter strips and pastes to professional treatments only available from a teeth whitening dentist. Sadly, most at-home systems are not capable of delivering the whitening that you demand. Strips and toothpaste might change your tooth color by a shade or so, but that is barely enough to be noticeable and will not result in the white, vibrant smile that you want. This leaves professional treatments as the better options, but even these can vary greatly.

At KC Smile in Overland Park, KS, we have chosen what we believe to be the three most effective options for teeth whitening on the market today. We offer Opalescence PF Tooth Whitening, NiteWhite Overnight Teeth Whitening, and Sheer White Whitening Strips. They differ from one another and are suited to patients with unique needs.


Opalescence PF Tooth Whitening is an ideal solution for patients who want to whiten their teeth, but are concerned about sensitivity, or who have a demonstrated oral sensitivity. This is a gel-based system and is available in either melon or mint flavors. It can also help to prevent cavities while hardening the enamel on your teeth, making it a highly-effective treatment choice.


The NiteWhite Overnight Teeth Whitening system is designed for those who would rather sleep through the whitening process. Like the Opalescence system, this one uses a special gel, but you keep the tray in overnight, rather than for just a few hours during the day. The gel is less concentrated, allowing longer insertion times.

Sheer White

Whitening strips have gotten a bad rap due to the poor performance of over the counter options. Sheer White Whitening Strips are very different. These are professional-grade strips that are designed to deliver outstanding performance in a product that you can apply on your own at home.

Which of these three teeth are whitening solutions the right choice for your needs? Determining that will require some discussion. We invite you to call our Overland Park office and speak with our cosmetic dentist, who can guide you through the entire process and help you determine which system is the best choice for your needs.

Now, let us address the second question posed above. Why is tooth whitening considered cosmetic dentistry? Simply put, it is because it does not address any actual underlying oral health conditions. Yellowed teeth may actually be completely healthy – they’re simply stained by the foods and beverages you have consumed over your lifespan. Teeth are actually not truly white in the first place. Their natural color is off-white to yellowish.

The fact that teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic treatment does have some immediate implications, though. For instance, it means that your dental insurance will not cover your whitening procedure. Because it does nothing to address actual oral health, the way that regular cleanings or having cavities treated do, your insurance company considers it a cosmetic/elective procedure.

How Does the Teeth Whitening Process Work?

The key to both strip-based and gel-based systems is the solution applied to the strip or used to create the gel. The active ingredient here is carbamide peroxide, and it is able to penetrate the enamel on your teeth to get at deep-down stains that cannot be reached in any other way. So, it is perfectly capable of removing intrinsic stains, while cleaning, polishing, and brushing will help with extrinsic (surface) stains. Of course, both the gel and the strips can provide treatment for surface stains, but you’ll need to continue brushing and visiting your dentist in Overland Park to keep those sparkling whites bright.

Who Makes the Best Candidate for Teeth Whitening in Overland Park?

Really, almost anyone is a good candidate to have their teeth whitened. If your teeth are yellowed from food and drink, or even from tobacco use, but are otherwise healthy, you can erase years of discoloration and achieve the bright, white, vibrant smile that you desire. With that being said, there are a few conditions that might make you a less than ideal candidate for this type of cosmetic dentistry. If any of the following apply to you, a different solution may need to be sought to remake your smile:

  • You are pregnant
  • You have significant damage to your teeth
  • You have restoration work already completed
  • You are under the age of 16
  • Your teeth are not yellow, but brown or gray
  • Your teeth are mottled due to overexposure to fluoride
  • You have gum disease
  • You have periodontal disease
  • You have untreated caries (cavities)

We invite you to call our office today and speak with the dentist about your other options. Depending on your situation, goals and current health of your mouth, you have any number of choices to help remake your smile that does not involve whitening.

Why should you not use whitening techniques if you have restoration work? Simply put, your restoration work is color matched to your teeth. While your teeth are likely more stained now than they were when the work was performed, bleaching will whiten them well beyond that point. The problem is that bleaching cannot whiten restorations, which means your fillings, veneers or crowns will be darker than the surrounding natural tooth material.

Why should only those with yellowed teeth seek out tooth whitening? There are several reasons for this. One of the most important is the fact that brown or gray teeth often cannot be whitened with bleaching. Mottled teeth are also not ideal candidates, as there is the possibility that whitening will result in a striated appearance.

Why should pregnant women avoid having their teeth whitened? While the gel used to bleach your teeth is not considered dangerous to you, it is not true for your baby. There is a risk to unborn children from the procedure, and your dentist in Overland Park will not provide bleaching if you are pregnant.

Answers to Common Teeth Whitening FAQs

At our Overland Park office, we routinely receive quite a few questions concerning teeth whitening. We have provided the answers to the most commonly asked questions below.

Is the tooth whitening process painful?

No, the process is not painful. Some patients do report mild sensitivity during and after the treatment, but this usually goes away within 24 to 48 hours after the final treatment. If you experience sensitivity that lasts longer than 48 hours, please consult your dentist.

How long will my whitening treatment last?

There is no answer that applies to every individual. Your results will vary depending on your lifestyle, the foods and drinks you enjoy, and more. In most cases, whitening will last for at least two years, and much longer in some cases. However, smoking, using smokeless tobacco, drinking coffee, tea or red wine, and other lifestyle factors will reduce this duration significantly.

Does the bleach harm the enamel on my teeth?

No, the bleaching process does not harm the enamel on your teeth as long as you use the system as directed. Leaving trays or strips in place for longer than directed could lead to damage to your teeth, as well as to significantly increased discomfort. However, so long as you use the system as your dentist in Overland Park directs, you will not have to worry about damage or discomfort.

Are over the counter products as effective as professional teeth whitening systems?

No, over the counter products, including strips and toothpaste, are not as effective as professional teeth whitening systems. You will be able to achieve a brighter, whiter smile with one of our three systems. In some cases, over the counter products may not offer any visible whitening at all.

Debunking the Myths Surrounding Teeth Whitening

While working with a teeth whitening dentist in Overland Park will help you achieve a bright, white, healthy smile, there are quite a few myths that have grown up around the process in the last few years. At best, these myths are misleading. At worst, they could put your oral health in danger.

Perhaps the most bothersome of the myths out there is that teeth whitening actually somehow causes nerve damage. While there is a possibility of tooth damage with some of the light-based systems, gel-based systems and strips like those we use for teeth whitening in Overland Park do not have any potential for real damage. At the worst, you will notice some minor discomfort that lasts for a couple of days before fading. Of course, you do need to ensure that you use the strips or trays correctly when at home, or there is the risk for increased discomfort and sensitivity.

Another myth out there is that you can actually achieve similar results with toothpaste. While toothpaste is an important tool for general cleaning and removing very mild surface stains, it cannot get below the surface of the enamel to purge serious stains the way that gel-based teeth whitening systems can. So, use as much toothpaste as you like, but you won’t see the results you want and need. The only way to achieve lasting, bright white teeth is to work with a leading cosmetic dentist.

Finally, there is a myth out there that tooth whitening is permanent. It is not. It’s a temporary solution to discoloration and staining that will last for several years at best. In a worst-case scenario, it may last only a short period of time. For instance, if you continue drinking red wine, coffee and tea, you will notice a very quick deterioration and return to your previously stained state.

Contact Our Overland Park Dental Office to Schedule Teeth Whitening Today

Ready to brighten your smile? Want to take years of staining and discoloration off your teeth? Perhaps you want to discuss other options for whitening, such as veneers or crowns. Whatever the case, our teeth whitening dentist will be happy to hear from you. Call our office directly at 913-491-6874, or contact us through our website if you prefer. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you create the vibrant, healthy smile you deserve.

Questions about a procedure?



Meet the Doctor

Ross S. Headley, DDS

Using the most advanced materials and techniques, Dr. Ross S. Headley will transform your smile. As Kansas’ only accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Headley understands how unhealthy or unattractive teeth can negatively impact a patient’s life. He witnesses daily how beautiful healthy teeth change lives. Take a moment and explore the options available for you.

Enhance Your Smile Today

Get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation.