#19: Teeth Whitening…… Your Questions Answered!

Teeth Whitening Questions

#19: Teeth Whitening…… Your Questions Answered!

Teeth Whitening ……. Your Questions Answered!

There is a LOT of hype on social media lately surrounding teeth whitening and a LOT of confusion. We’re here to help answer a few questions…

Most dentists-including us!- offer two styles of teeth whitening:

 Firstly, the ‘home whitening’ technique is a very popular and simple system to use. It is the most cost effective method and comes as a take home kit.

 It involves making a thin, soft mouthguard style tray which is prepared from an impression of your teeth. A whitening gel is applied on the tray and is worn for 20-30 minutes on a daily basis at home. The teeth will lighten gradually over a 7 – 10 day period after which it may be applied again weekly or fortnightly as a ‘booster’ to maintain the lighter colour.

 A faster result can be obtained with the in-chair whitening method. This will take about an hour, where we apply the whitening gel directly to your teeth and activate the gel with a warming light at our clinic. 

 Pros’ and Cons:

 The home whitening technique is the most popular, most economical and will provide results over a longer period of time. The beauty of this system is that it is in your control. If you find your teeth are white enough after a few days, stop using it. If after 10 days you would like whiter teeth, keep going! Six months down the track, if you decide you would like to whiten your teeth again, get the kit out and start again. Extra gel is available at our clinic at $20 a tubes that will last approximately 15 uses. The trays will last for years. This system is better for patients who would like white teeth all year round and are prepared to do the work at home. It is also the preferred system for patients that experience sensitivity as it whitens gradually over time.

 The in-chair system is good for people who aren’t able to do the whitening at home every day for ten days, are forgetful or if they need their teeth whitened quickly – ie your wedding day is this weekend! etc. It can make the teeth more sensitive as the system does all of it’s whitening in an hour. The other downfall is the maintenance aspect (no whitening system is permanent). If you want your teeth to be white all year round, you will need to do the in chair system again (usually 6-12 months later depending on lifestyle-smoking/red wine will darker teeth quicker) or purchase the home whitening kit to maintain the bright white.


Results are somewhat variable depending on the character of the teeth –worn, heavily filled teeth do not respond well. Crowned teeth do not respond at all. Our initial kit provides 3 tubes of gel with the trays.  These can be purchased as refills later as required.

The whitening gel is safe and approved by the appropriate authorities. The whitening gel can occasionally aggravate sensitive teeth.

Here are some questions we get asked often….

Q1: My Beauty therapist is offering teeth whitening cheaper than my dentist. Should I go there?

A1: As dentists we don’t recommend going to your local hairdresser or beauty therapist to have them apply a whitening agent to your teeth. Believe it or not, the real stuff is considered a medication by the TGA and if not used properly there is a huge potential you could be doing harm to your teeth, mouth and health in general. If they are using the ‘fake’ stuff, it’s unlikely to work. Like all things in life…You get what you pay for.

Q2: How long does teeth whitening last?

A2: The longevity and results of teeth whitening is specific to each person. If you smoke and drink loads of red wine and coffee, then odds are that your teeth will drop back in colour quicker than someone who doesn’t smoke/drink red wine/coffee. However, we usually find that smokers and red wine drinkers get fantastic results as the superficial staining on their teeth is lifted with teeth whitening and are great candidates for the home whitening system (see above!)

Q3: Does teeth whitening make your teeth sensitive? If my teeth are sensitive already should I whiten them?

A3: Teeth whitening can cause tooth sensitivity. Depending on your level of sensitivity the dentist will recommend the best system for you or not at all. It’s why we highly recommend seeing a dentist prior to proceeding with any tooth whitening system.

Q4: Why is the dentist so expensive for teeth whitening compared to others?

A4: Put simply…we use the good stuff AND we use all of the materials and covers required to isolate the teeth from your gums to avoid the gel bleaching the gum, tongue, cheeks or throat AND we have a nurse on hand to ensure your comfort AND all of our instruments are sterile or single use. There is a huge list of safety precautions involved in any dental procedure. At our clinic, your safety is paramount.

Q: I’ve heard of Zoom! and Pola teeth whitening systems…what’s the difference?

A: There are minor differences between the two systems involving the desensitisers used in the product, and where they are manufactured, essentially they are both very similar and in our experience achieve the same results.