Getting a brighter smile: What you should know about teeth whitening

Whiter teeth seem to be all the rage now. Whether you have stained or discoloured teeth that make you extremely conscious of smiling or you simply want to improve your smile and keep up with the trend, chances are you’ve considered teeth whitening.

There is a wide range of teeth whitening treatments available today: from whitening toothpastes, bleaching kits through to cosmetic dental solutions.  But, have you done your research before signing up for any of these treatments? In this article, we shed some light on the various teeth whitening options, including the basic process of teeth whitening and what causes stained teeth in the first place.



The causes of stained teeth

Just like people have different skin, eyes, and hair colour, we also have different teeth colour.  Some would naturally have whiter or yellower teeth compared to others.  But there are other factors that may cause surface stains and affect your natural teeth colour.

Stained or discoloured teeth are caused by:

  • The natural aging process
  • Smoking
  • Drinking coffee, dark tea, colas or red wine
  • Eating pigmented food such as blueberries or cherries
  • Plaque and tartar deposits
  • Ingesting too much fluoride when teeth are forming
  • Treatment with tetracycline (an antibiotic) during childhood
  • Trauma to the teeth

The causes of stained teeth are varied, including natural causes and lifestyle choices.

How does teeth whitening work?

While there are several options to teeth whitening, the basic process common to most treatments is the use of peroxide-based bleaching agents.  At home, teeth whitening treatments would generally contain 3% to 15% carbamide peroxide while dental treatments contain 10% to 15% carbamide peroxide..

The basic principle is the longer you keep the solution on your teeth, the whiter your teeth become.  But, the higher the peroxide content, the shorter the amount of time it should be applied to your teeth as high peroxide content may dehydrate the teeth and cause tooth sensitivity.

Teeth whitening treatments

With so many people looking for a brighter and whiter smile, a wide range of treatments has been made available.  But how do you know which one is the best and safest for you?

Teeth whitening toothpaste

This is the most basic and most affordable option available.  Teeth whitening toothpastes contain abrasive agents that remove stains on the surface of your teeth as well as detergents that act as foaming agents and clean the tooth surface.  Teeth whitening toothpastes also contain polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and triclosan which help prevent stains from accumulating and reduce plaque that causes tooth decay.

Teeth whitening toothpastes are a few dollars more expensive than regular toothpaste, but in the end, it may be an expensive and non-effective way of whitening your teeth.  Many users report that they see no difference or significant improvement in the whiteness of their teeth.

DIY teeth whitening kits

These kits can be readily purchased online, but there are some things that you should be wary of.  First, many of these DIY kits have high levels of peroxide that may be unsafe when used outside a dental clinic.  Another disadvantage is that the bleach trays may not be a perfect fit for your teeth.

These DIY kits, used without the supervision of a dentist, should be used with caution.  Excessive bleaching can damage the enamel, giving your teeth a bluish tint.  Also, some users report experiencing tooth or gum sensitivity when using at home teeth whitening products.

Salon teeth whitening

In-chair teeth whitening treatments are now conveniently available in salons.  This treatment involves using a bleaching gel on your teeth and then placing your teeth under an activating light.  However, recent regulations state that preparations containing more than 6% peroxide should only be handled by registered dentists in a clinical setting.

Practitioners in salons giving in-chair teeth whitening treatments typically have no dental training.  They’re not qualified to check for potential oral problems such as cracked enamel, cavities or exposed root surfaces that may be affected by the teeth whitening treatment.  They are also unable to give proper advice on the right treatment for you.  Salon teeth whitening treatments may cause infections, irritated lips, sore gums and sensitive teeth. We do not recommend this option.

Dental teeth whitening

There are many advantages to dental teeth whitening.  The main one is that dentists are qualified to assess the status of your teeth, check your dental history, and address any underlying issues that may be causing discolouration.  Dentists also offer custom-fitted bleaching trays that give you better control of the bleach avoiding contact with the gums.

Dentists are qualified to perform power bleaching which involves placing strong hydrogen peroxide bleach in trays and applying this to your teeth.  This is enhanced with a light or heat source, typically laser, LED or halogen lamps.

However, our dentists at the Paltoglou Dental Centre do not recommend power bleaching and instead recommend the use of a take home tray system correctly fitted to your unique bite.  Impressions of your teeth are taken from which customised trays are made for you.  Your dentist will then provide you with detailed instructions.  This is not only a recommended method but also a cost effective and safe way to whiten your teeth.

If you need advice on the best and safest teeth whitening treatment for you, consult with a registered dentist first.  After reviewing your dental history and checking your current oral health, they will then give you clinical and sound advice on the most suitable treatment for you.

The Paltoglou Dental Centre is happy to discuss any questions you might have on teeth whitening.  Call us on 03 9824 7722.  We specialise in cosmetic dentistry and are here to help you achieve a brighter and whiter smile.


Posted on September 30, 2016 | No comments | Categories: Oral Hygiene |

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APPOINTMENTS : (03) 9824 7722 - 1007 Malvern Road, Toorak Melbourne VIC 3142

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1007 Malvern Road
Toorak, Melbourne 3142
APPOINTMENTS 03 9824 7722


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