Teeth Whitening

Why did my teeth change colour?

There are a number of reasons and these include:

  1. Staining from food and drink: Coffee, tea and red wine are common culprits. 
  2. Smoking: Tobacco produces tar and nicotine which both results in stubborn stains on teeth. 
  3. Age: Over time the outer enamel layer of the teeth gets thinner with brushing and erosion, exposing the more yellow tooth structure underneath
  4. Trauma: After trauma or physical injury to your teeth, a tooth/teeth may change colour and become darker over time. 
  5. Medications: Antibiotic use when the teeth are still forming may cause discolouration of adult teeth later in life. These are usually tetracycline and doxycycline. 

How does teeth whitening work?

All whitening products contain one of two key ingredients, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour becomes lighter.  Not all whitening treatments are equally effective on all people, and not all teeth will whiten to the same degree. 

What are the side effects?

Some people may find their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after teeth whitening. Others may have discomfort in the gums.  These symptoms are usually short term and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing. 

When might tooth whitening not work?

Tooth whitening products only work on natural teeth. It will not work on any types of ‘false’ teeth such as white fillings, dentures, crowns and veneers. Typically the products will work better at brightening teeth that are yellow and less effective on grey or brown teeth. 

Is teeth whitening safe?

Teeth whitening is a non-invasive treatment that doesn’t involve surgery, but there can still be risks if instructions and regulations aren’t followed. 

Teeth whitening products sold over the counter in Australia may not contain more than 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide, as higher concentrations can carry a risk of chemical burns. Higher strength products may only be used by a registered dental professional

How long will the treatment take to see results?

Home whitening kits using gels and custom trays can take up to 2 weeks to achieve results, while in-chair laser whitening performed by your dentist may be completed in a single appointment.

Can a single tooth which has been root filled be whitened?

Yes. Sometimes dead teeth go discoloured after a root filling. If the tooth has been root treated, the canal may be reopened and a whitening product applied from the inside to whiten the tooth. This usually takes 2-3 visits. 

Is teeth whitening right for me?

If you have pre-existing dental conditions such as gum disease or tooth decay, these should be managed as a priority before you commence teeth whitening. Your dentist will assess your teeth and determine whether teeth whitening is the right option for you. You may not be suitable if you have sensitive teeth, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or you’re under 18years of age.

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