Whitening Trays – Construction guide

Ever made a whitening tray before? When I started working, I sure hadn’t! They aren’t difficult to make, but if you’ve never done it before its going to be a bit of a challenge. Since learning, I’ve come to find the process a bit therapeutic, its a good chance to get away from it all and just do your thing! Continue below for a step-by-step how-to guide in making a take home bleaching tray

Bleaching Tray Steps:

1) Well trimmed model

Trim the model neatly right up close to the buccal margin, removing as much of the lip of the buccal sulcus as possible. If you leave a lip, it will make it harder to remove the suck-down tray from the model, and might lead to inaccuracies in the suck-down process.


2) Check for bubbles, chips and inaccuracies in the model

Inspect the model closely. Inaccuracies which are missed at this stage can make the whole process a waste of time, so check carefully! Look for the following:

  • Chipped incisal edges – can you build it back up in composite, or does the impression need to be re-taken?
  • Positive bubbles – can you chip them off without
    damaging the model? Try to re-shape the area while removing the bubble
  • Negative bubbles – fill them with composite shaping it to your best approximation, and cure it in place. Wax will not work here, as the suck-down machine will melt the wax away
  • Missed gingival margins – If its in the posterior region, you may be able to leave it as whitening here isn’t all that important. If it IS in the anterior, you’ll need to try to carve it into the model, but ideally a new impression should be taken

3) Carve out the buccal gingival margin

I use a Lecron carver, but anything with a sharp point will do. This makes the final tray tight-fitting around the gingival margin which will keep the bleach in the tray and stop it from leaking onto the gingiva. Carve out along the buccal gingival margin of the teeth you’re going to bleach.

4) Create some bleach wells on the model

Use a block-out resin or flowable composite to create wells for the bleach to sit in when in use. It only need to go where you want to do the bleaching, so usually just on the buccal from premolars-premolars. Once again, you cant use wax because it will melt in the next step.


5) Form the tray using your suck-down machine

All suck-down machines are different, you’ll need to find out how yours works. Use a soft, flexible blank. Once cooled, you can push the model out and then just push the tray back into shape without damaging it. If you’ve used a hard blank, then you’ll need to cut the model out

6) Cut the tray out

Use small sharp scissors to cut along the buccal gingival margin. You can be a bit more relaxed on the palatal/lingual, cutting straight across at the approximate height of the gingival margin



David is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW, Australia. Read more at www.dentalheadstart.com/meet-david/

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