The Ultimate Guide to Teeth Whitening: Everything You Need to Know


Years of drinking coffee, red wine, and tea can take a toll on your teeth’s appearance. Certain medications, smoking, and aging are some examples of factors that can cause your teeth to look dull and dingy.


For most people, having yellow teeth can be a cause for concern. If you are unhappy with your current tooth shade and you finally want to put an end to your dental problem, you may want to consider teeth whitening for brighter teeth. Teeth whitening is a quick, affordable, and a non invasive procedure that can help bring back the lustre and brilliance of your smile that have been dulled by years of surface stains and discolouration.


In this blog, we’ll discuss all the possible questions you may have about the teeth whitening process. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

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Teeth whitening, as the name implies, is a cosmetic dental procedure that involves bleaching your teeth to improve their colour by up to several shades lighter. Some people get white teeth right away, but others might need a few more sessions to get the brightness they want.


The common chemical substance present in whitening gel is carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Only registered dental professionals are legally allowed to use high concentrations of teeth whitening solutions. The bleaching agent will penetrate through your tooth enamel, the topmost layer of your teeth, and soak into the dentine, the second and softer layer right beneath it.


The chemical will react with the coloured molecules on your teeth that are causing the discolouration. After the treatment, the dentine will brighten, and your enamel will become more reflective, ultimately giving you a brighter and whiter smile. However, it’s important to mention that the effects of teeth whitening are only temporary.


As you know, there are many forms of teeth whitening. You can even buy some of these products in your local supermarket or drugstore. Although they contain the same active ingredient with that of your dentist, don’t be misled. Many of these products do not work because they do not have the same hydrogen peroxide concentration used in dental offices. Dentists typically use whiteners that have up to 45% of peroxide while store- bought products only have 7% of peroxide.


Part of the procedure’s success is ensuring that you follow aftercare instructions. For example, if you’re a heavy coffee drinker, you may have to make certain adjustments. Since your mouth absorbs anything you put into it, you can use a straw when drinking your morning coffee. In that way, the dark liquid will not pass through your teeth and hence prevent staining.

What Are the Common Causes of Tooth Discolouration?

The main contributors to tooth discolouration are the foods and drinks you consume, tooth injuries, and the natural ageing process.
  • Food and Drinks
    Your teeth are highly porous, they contain thousands of pores, much like your skin. Making them to easily absorb food pigments and drinks through these pores.

    Certain foods and drinks can cause your teeth to stain. These are called dietary stains. Examples include coffee, red wine, tea, red pasta sauces, and chocolate.

  • Smoking Tobacco Injuries
    Another source of discolouration is chronic tobacco use. Whether you’re chewing them or smoking them, tobacco can cause deeper stains.

    Tooth discolouration caused by injuries is not uncommon. Have you ever experienced hurting your knee while playing sports when you were younger, leaving you with a black and blue mark? The same applies to your tooth if it gets injured.

    A hard blow to the face can cause your teeth to turn grey; this is an indication that your tooth is no longer receiving adequate blood flow. There are cases where the tooth could heal by itself, but there are also cases where the discolouration becomes permanent.

  • Antibiotics
    During the 1950s, medical doctors found that pregnant women who took tetracycline antibiotics resulted in children having brown-stained teeth. When you take this antibiotic, the medicine will bind with the calcium that your body uses to build teeth. Consequently, when the teeth grow in, they turn yellow and eventually turn brown.

    The brownish colour becomes more pronounced when exposed to sunlight. Other medications that cause grey, yellow, and brown tooth discolouration are doxycycline (used to treat acne), chlorhexidine (disinfectant), amoxicillin-clavulanate (treat bacterial infections) and tetracycline (treat respiratory infections), ciprofloxacin (antibiotic), and minocycline (antibiotic).

    Excessive fluoride use can also create white spots and streaks on your teeth or leave your teeth with brownish discolouration. Severe cases of excessive fluoride can result in permanent brown stains.

  • Age
    Over time, your enamel will undergo wear and tear. As they start to wear down, they will eventually expose the dentin’s yellowish layer underneath. As you grow older, your dentin becomes bigger, making the pulp smaller. The translucence of your teeth also lessens, making your teeth appear darker.

What Are The Different Types of Teeth Whitening?

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Teeth whitening comes in different forms. Some prefer one method over the other, depending on your needs and budget. To know what type of teeth whitening solution is best for you, we suggest you consult with your dentist. Nevertheless, all forms of professional teeth whitening may help restore the brightness to your smile.

In-Office Teeth Whitening


The option that gives you fast results is a professional in-chair teeth whitening treatment. In this procedure, your dentist will apply a teeth whitening solution directly to your teeth. In some cases, the treatment may need a combination with a laser, special light, or heat to cure the bleaching agent. Depending on the case, the procedure may take as little as half an hour to show results. However, your dentist may ask you to come back for several sessions more to achieve significant changes.

Customised Whitening Tray


One of the most popular teeth whitening methods is the use of customised bleaching trays. The trays are tailored by your dentist to fit the contours of your teeth. Achieving a perfect fit is paramount so that the whitening gel will not seep out of the trays during the treatment. It also ensures that your teeth will have maximum exposure to the solution.


Dentists often not recommend over-the-counter whitening trays because they are usually not customised fit to your teeth. They may come out loose and cause the whitening agent to irritate and inflame your gums during the process. It’s also likely that you won’t achieve even brightness.

Whitening Strips


Another option to brighten your smile is the use of teeth whitening strips. They can be bought from your local drugstore. The package comes with a set of instructions that must be carefully followed. Each box contains whitening strips.


You only need one strip for each row of teeth, so if you want to whiten all of your teeth, you’ll need one strip for your top teeth and another for the bottom. This option may be suitable if you have mild to moderate stains. Results are evident after three days. However, because the strips can’t cover the nooks and crannies of your teeth, there’s a possibility that you won’t be able to achieve even brightness.

Whitening Toothpastes


Ordinary toothpastes are designed to remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris in your mouth. But, you’ll also find toothpastes that offer the extra benefit of teeth whitening. If you are looking to brighten your smile, you may want to switch to teeth whitening toothpaste. However, the results are not immediate, so you’ll have to be patient.

What Happens During Your Teeth Whitening Procedure?

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In a teeth whitening procedure, your dentist will insert a cheek retractor in your mouth to expose all the teeth that are visible when you smile. Next, certain type of gel is painted all over your gum tissues to protect them against irritation from the bleaching agent. Then, the whitening solution will be applied to your teeth. Your dentist will let it stay there for several minutes to allow your teeth to absorb the solution.


It will then be rinsed off. A fresh batch of whitening gel will be applied again for 15 minutes up to half an hour. Some dentists prefer to use an intense light to activate the whitening process. Your dentist will closely examine your teeth to check if they respond well to the whitening solution between applications. These observations will determine how much bleach needs to be added.


After the final gel application, your dentist will remove the retractors and ask you to rinse your mouth. The full effect of the treatment will show after a few days. If you are still not satisfied with the results, your dentist can schedule you for a follow-up session.

What Are the Biggest Risks Associated with Teeth Whitening?

The most common side effects of teeth whitening are mild irritation of your oral soft tissue and tooth sensitivity. Gum tissue irritation is usually a result of poor-fitting bleaching trays. It means that the bleaching solution has seeped out of the trays and into your gums causing gum sensitivity and pain.


Tooth sensitivity is also an unwanted side effect of teeth whitening and may occur after the treatment. Not to worry because these side effects are only temporary and should resolve after three days. Patients want to know if tooth bleaching can cause brittle teeth. The answer is no as long as you let an experience dentist do it.

What Are The Reasons Why You May Consider Teeth Whitening Treatments?

Treatments Are Personalized


Store-bought teeth whitening products are generically made so there are no assurances that the trays inside the package will fit your teeth perfectly. Some of the whitening strips available also come in various shapes and sizes and since every smile is different, you can’t be sure that the strips will accurately fit yours.


These variations in sizes can lead to uneven whitening results and possibly tooth sensitivity. In-office teeth whitening treatments come with customized trays ensuring that the whitening gel is evenly applied on your teeth. Proper techniques are applied to ensure that your gums and lips don’t get in contact with the bleaching solution.


Since the amount of hydrogen peroxide is set in OTC whitening kits, you can’t expect a significant change in the brightness of your smile. Meanwhile, in an in-office treatment, your dentist will work closely with you so they can control the concentration based on the level of whiteness you wish to achieve.

Professional Approach


When you purchase teeth whitening products in stores you’ll only get instructions from the back of the label and nothing more. The downside to this is you only get limited information about the product and what it can do for you. Perhaps the biggest advantage of an in-office teeth whitening treatment is you get access to a wealth of information about the treatment from your dentist. You’ll learn about the cause of your tooth stains, what approach is best to address these issues, and what lifestyle changes you need to do to preserve the whiteness of your teeth after the treatment.

Improve Your Oral Health


You’ll be surprised to know that teeth whitening also improves your oral health. Before the treatment, your dentist will assess your mouth for signs of oral health problems like cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. These should issues are addressed first before proceeding with the treatment.

Make You Look Younger


Did you know that as simple as whitening your smile can make you look younger? You don’t need to go under the knife and do drastic surgeries just to slash years off your face. Just by getting rid of the yellow and brown stains on your teeth, you’ll see a drastic difference in how you look.


People love teeth whitening because it can dramatically improve their appearance. Whitening makes your teeth look brighter and whiter, giving you a more youthful and vibrant look.

Who Are the Suitable Candidates for Teeth Whitening Treatments?

Dentists love to help improve your smile, but there are limitations to the treatment. It’s not for everyone. Patients below 18 years old are not advised to undergo teeth whitening treatments because the mineral content in their teeth is significantly lower compared to adults. Applying beach on their teeth could destroy the process of mineral calcification.
Pregnant and lactating women are also discouraged from having their teeth professionally whitened since the chemicals could enter the placenta and breast milk.
Your dentist wouldn’t recommend teeth whitening if you have extra sensitive teeth. People who have oral cancer, periodontal disease and those with worn enamel are not allowed to get teeth whitening.

Can Dental Restorations Be Whitened?

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Do teeth whitening treatments work on crowns, veneers, and fillings? The answer is no. The bleaching agent will only react with your natural teeth and not on dental restorations. Your dental enhancements will maintain their shade even after having in-office teeth whitening. The only changes you can observe are from your natural teeth.

What Are the Foods and Drinks You Can Eat Following Teeth Whitening?

After teeth whitening, your dentist will give you some advice on what to eat and drink after the treatment to help maintain the whiteness of your teeth. The following food and drinks are acceptable to include in your meal plan:

  • Fish and Chicken.
    These lean proteins are great for your newly whitened teeth. Just be careful with the sauces you choose to mix them with. As much as possible, keep the sauces white.

  • Pasta, Bread, and Rice. Pasta, bread, and rice are also known as the White Diet. Choosing light-coloured foods is the way to go. You must be willing to sacrifice dark coloured-foods. So if you’re getting bread, choose those that do not contain food colouring and molasses as these could stain your teeth.

  • Water.
    As for your drinks, the safest option is to go for water. Water contains zero colouring that could potentially create stains and discolouration on your teeth.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

The estimated consultation cost in Australia is around $65, while the treatment cost for each tooth would be approximately $73 per tooth. To get an accurate quotation, we suggest you consult with your dentist. An assessment is done on your teeth to check if you need other treatments before teeth whitening, they will then determine how many teeth need to be bleached.

Do Health Funds cover teeth Whitening?

Typically, only preventive dental care such as dental sealants, X-rays, and routine teeth cleanings is covered by 80%. Meanwhile, restorative dental treatments such as dentures, inlays, bridges, and crowns are covered by up to 50%. Unfortunately, dental insurance doesn’t cover dental cosmetic treatment. Examples are teeth whitening, gum contouring, veneers, and tooth shaping. You’ll have to pay for these treatments straight from your pocket. But don’t worry, teeth whitening treatments aren’t expensive.

Final Thoughts

In-office teeth whitening treatments are one of our dental office’s most requested cosmetic dental treatments. At Ellen Stirling Dental, we are proud to offer this affordable service to our patients who want to achieve a whiter shade in their smiles. We know dealing with tooth stains and severe discolouration can dent your self-esteem, so we encourage our patients to book a consultation to inspect the severity of these stains and develop a tailored treatment plan to address your main concerns and provide you with realistic expectations. Like all other treatments, teeth whitening also comes with risks, but the good news is that the side effects of the treatment are only temporary and usually resolve after a couple of days. They can also be avoided as long as you carefully follow post-treatment instructions.

Our qualified health practitioner will also encourage you to practice good oral hygiene to maintain the brilliance and lustre of your smile. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to get rid of surface stains and plaque buildup. This dental hygiene program not only enhances your smile but it also improves your oral health. Also, don’t forget to floss and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash. More importantly, visit your dentist at least once every six months to have your teeth professionally cleaned. Routine teeth cleanings also help maintain the brightness of your smile. If you have any questions or concerns about teeth whitening or if you want to do an online booking at Ellen Stirling Dental, please do not hesitate to contact us at (08) 6185 0200.

Disclaimer – Use At Your Own Risk :- The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. Any action you take upon the information on these blogs are strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of the information from these blogs.
Dr. Rachit Shah


Dr. Rachit Shah

Dr. Rachit Shah has a caring and holistic approach to your healthcare. He brings a gentle and modern approach to dentistry; one aimed to create a painless and anxiety-free experience whilst using conservative methods to create long-lasting and highly aesthetic smiles.

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