Teeth Whitening Methods: Which Will Work For Me?

Teeth Whitening Methods: Which Will Work For Me? By Dr. Jon ( Junyi ) Ho | September 9, 2022

Teeth whitening is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to achieve a white smile. But with all the different teeth whitening products and methods, how do you know which will work best for you?

This blog post will look deeper into these different methods to give you a clearer idea and allow you to make an informed decision to achieve desirable outcomes.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

What Is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a common dental treatment that involves lightening the colour of your teeth by using active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

As we age, our teeth naturally darken because the outer layer of our tooth enamel (the hard white surface) wears away and reveals the darker dentin beneath. Our poor lifestyle habits can also result in brown or yellow teeth as well, such as smoking and drinking stain-causing foods and beverages like coffee, red wine, and tea.

While tooth whitening is an effective way to improve your smile, it is not a permanent solution as it requires touch-ups and proper care to maintain them. In addition, note that this is not for everybody.

What Are The Different Methods Of Teeth Whitening?

There are two major methods of teeth whitening treatment, such as:

1. In-Office Or In-Chair Teeth Whitening

This is the most popular and quickest method to achieve brighter teeth. It is done in a dental office by a dentist or a certified dental hygienist. It usually takes about an hour to complete, or more, depending on the severity of your teeth’s discolouration and stains. You might also need more sessions if your teeth stains are severe.

Compared to the other methods, in-chair treatment is the most effective because dentists use higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that are activated with a LED or blue light. Moreover, it is the safest because dental professionals are trained to take precautionary measures to protect your gums, teeth, and other soft tissues in your mouth. They can also monitor the amount of time the bleaching agent is in contact with your teeth.

2. At-Home Teeth Whitening

This is a more affordable method that you can perform in the comfort of your own home. Below are different ways to do this:

  • Custom-made mouthpiece or tray-based teeth whitening: A custom-made mouthpiece or tray is fabricated by your dentist. It is made from an imprint of your teeth and contains bleaching gel, which you must wear for a specific amount of time every day, depending on the severity of your staining.
  • Over-the-counter whitening strips and gels: These are products you can buy without a prescription at your local drugstore or online. They come with a lower concentration of bleaching agents than those used in a professional setting. These are applied directly to your teeth. But, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging your teeth or gum tissue.
  • Whitening toothpaste: This type of toothpaste uses polishing or mild abrasive agents to remove surface stains on your teeth. It may not actually change the colour of your teeth, but it can make them look brighter.
  • Whitening rinses: Many brands of mouthwashes are available, and some have low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, which can help reduce surface stains on your teeth with consistent use.

Cost Comparison Of The Different Teeth Whitening Methods

In the country, an in-chair teeth whitening treatment may cost up to $260 per tooth, plus around $280 for a complimentary consultation and cleaning procedure. On the other hand, you may expect to pay up to $610 for a take-home teeth whitening kit. For other over-the-counter products, such as whitening strips, gels, and toothpaste, the cost may range from $10 to $100.

Who Can Have Teeth Whitening?

You are usually a good candidate for teeth whitening if you have good oral health and are over 16 years old. But your dentist may not recommend this if you have tooth decay, gum disease and other oral issues. They might need to address these problems before proceeding with the treatment. If there are contraindications or your safety is at risk, they may recommend another dental procedure that can whiten your teeth. These include dental veneers, bonding, or crowns.

Who Can Perform Teeth Whitening?

Under Australian law, only registered dentists can use teeth whitening products that contain more than 6% hydrogen peroxide and 18% carbamide peroxide. However, a registered or licensed dental hygienist can also perform professional teeth whitening under the supervision of a dentist.

On the other hand, you can do the treatment at home using over-the-counter tooth whiteners with lower concentrations of active ingredients. Mostly, these items have a 3% concentration of peroxide and are made to be safe for home use.

What Are The Risks Of Teeth Whitening At Home?

Though at-home teeth whitening products have lower concentrations of bleaching agents, they still come with risks. Here’s a clear and thorough summary of each risk:

Tooth Sensitivity

Teeth whitening agents can penetrate your tooth enamel and irritate the nerve endings inside your teeth, causing temporary sensitive teeth. This side effect is more common if you use a higher concentration of bleaching gel or if you leave it on your teeth for a longer time than recommended.

Gum Irritation

The bleaching gel can also irritate your gums, causing them to swell, bleed, or feel sore. If you have gum disease, this side effect may be more severe. To avoid this, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and always rinse your mouth with water after each application.

Risk Of Infection

If you have open wounds in your mouth or any cuts on your gums, the bleaching agent can cause infection by entering these open wounds. This is why you must consult your dentist first if you have any cuts or wounds in your mouth before starting the treatment.

Allergic Reaction

In rare instances, some individuals can be allergic to the bleaching agents used in teeth whitening products. If you start experiencing difficulty breathing, hives or swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, seek medical help immediately.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

Teeth whitening is generally safe, especially when performed by dental professionals. However, your dentist will work to minimise them by assessing your suitability before starting the procedure. When it comes to whitening procedures that you perform on your teeth with over-the-counter products, it’s important to follow instructions properly to minimise risks.

How Effective Are The Different Teeth Whitening Methods?

How Effective Are The Different Teeth Whitening Methods?

The effectiveness of teeth whitening methods can vary. In general, professional in-office treatments performed by dentists are more effective than at-home treatments. This is because dentists have access to stronger bleaching agents, and they can customise the treatment according to your needs.

Take-home custom-fitted mouth trays with carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide gel can also give good results if you follow your dentist’s instructions carefully. Whereas tooth whiteners you can purchase from drugstores or online may only make your teeth one to shades lighter with consistent usage. But you must note that over-the-counter products can only whiten surface or extrinsic stains.

How Long Does It Take To Whiten Teeth?

The amount of time you can expect to see whiter teeth depends on the method you choose. For in-office whitening treatments, you can expect to see that your teeth are two to eight shades lighter after your first session. This depends on the severity of the stains and discolourations on your teeth. If you opt for custom trays from your dentist, you will notice that your teeth are two to four shades whiter after using them consistently for a few days to 14 days.

When it comes to over-the-counter products, results can be more gradual and less dramatic. On average, they may make your teeth one to two shades whiter after consistent usage for a few weeks or even months.

It must be noted that these are just averages, and your results may differ. The time it takes to achieve a brighter smile will vary from individual to individual.

Does Teeth Whitening Last Forever?

Both professional and DIY teeth whitening treatments are not permanent. But with proper care, in-office whitening can last up to 3 years and up to a year for custom-made at-home whitening kits. For teeth whitening products you can purchase from stores; their results may last up to 4 months if you take care of your teeth. But, you can maintain your newly whitened teeth and maximise the results of your treatment with proper care.

Which Teeth Whitening Method Is For Me?

In-office may work for you if you are a good candidate and are looking for a more effective, long-lasting, and safer teeth whitening treatment. This method can also help whiten very deep stains. You can try custom-fitted at-home teeth whitening kits or over-the-counter products if you want a more affordable and convenient way to achieve brighter teeth. In addition, if you have dental anxiety, at-home teeth whitening may be a better option. However, the results may not be as noticeable. In addition, you must be responsible and follow instructions carefully to avoid risks and complications.

Final Thoughts

Teeth whitening is one of the most sought-after cosmetic treatments in dentistry that can help you achieve a brighter smile. There are various methods of this treatment, and understanding each one’s pros and cons can help you decide which better suits you. In-office tooth whitening is the most effective and safest, though it’s the most expensive because it’s done by a dental professional. At-home treatment may be less costly, but the risks are higher, and the effects are not as long-lasting and immediate as in-chair.

If you have been dreaming of brighter and whiter teeth but are unsure what fits your needs, let one of the dentists at our clinic assess your situation. Our modern facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to provide you with efficient teeth whitening treatments. The compassionate and friendly dentists here have several years of experience performing teeth whitening procedures for the community. We also have custom-tray take-home whitening kits if you feel more comfortable doing it at home.

At your appointment, we will check your oral health to see if you are a good candidate and explain clearly what you should expect during and after the procedure. Call Darch Dental Care now at 08 9303 9770 to book a consultation!

Dr. Jon ( Junyi ) Ho

Dr. Jon is a Perth-based dentist who graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Science in 2005 from the University of Western Australia. He has worked at a range of dental practices, including being a partner and principal dentist for a group of five dental surgeries in Sydney. Dr. Jon has been practising for over a decade in the northern suburbs of Perth. He provides treatment for patients in Darch, Madeley, Landsdale, Kingsway, Kingsley, Marangaroo, Alexander Heights, Wangara, Ellenbrook, and others.

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