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Let’s Talk About Whitening Regression

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Let’s Talk About Whitening Regression

All patients who have their teeth whitened will experience some initial regression over the first week or so. You should prepare your patients for that. And the best way to ensure they understand why regression happens is to make sure you understand.

During teeth whitening, microscopic bubbles filled with reactive oxygen species form within the enamel. Those bubbles inside the enamel reflect light back to the observer’s eye; the light doesn’t continue through the tooth structure. As the bubbles dissipate during the first week after whitening, the true treatment results are revealed. This is called short-term regression. Obviously, the more effective the whitening system, the whiter the “true treatment results” will be, and less visual regression seen.

Some patients may experience long-term regression, which may be the result of additional stain but is also caused by chromophores (a type of intramolecular bond between atoms) that absorb certain visible light wavelengths, making teeth appear darker. Whitening breaks apart chromophores, but just like magnets they tend to snap back together over time.

The best way to prevent this type of long-term regression (and to maintain initial whitening results) is to instruct patients to perform periodic at-home whitening maintenance. The KöR Long-Term Maintenance program includes occasional at-home whitening to remove stain and debris, and to prevent chromophores from snapping back together. The KöR Accelerated Maintenance program—which begins immediately after active whitening and gradually reduced over time—can help minimize regression for all patients.

When you explain whitening regression to patients before treatment, you ensure they know exactly what to expect. And when you help them develop a plan for lifelong maintenance of their bright, new smiles, you’ve made a friend for life!

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