From Coffee Stains to Yellow Teeth: The Ultimate Guide to Teeth Whitening

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Hollywood smiles are not just for celebrities anymore – many people can have a white, bright smile that turns heads through teeth whitening.

Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures available today. It’s more affordable than other dental procedures, effective if done correctly, and relatively simple to do. However, it’s not for everybody.

If you’re considering getting your teeth whitened, there are a few things you should know first. This guide will tell you important things you need to know about teeth whitening so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

From Coffee Stains to Yellow Teeth: The Ultimate Guide to Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening is a dental cosmetic procedure that uses bleaching products to lighten the colour of your teeth. The bleaching agent used can be either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Teeth whitening works when these active ingredients break up stains on your teeth. When this happens, the colours appear less concentrated, making your teeth look lighter.

Types of Teeth Whitening

There are two types of teeth whitening, such as:

1. In-Office or In-Chair Teeth Whitening

In-office or in-chair teeth whitening is done by a dentist or a certified dental professional in their office, and it’s a quick and effective way to achieve noticeable results. The procedure involves applying a bleaching agent to your teeth and activating it with a laser or other light source. It often takes half an hour to 90 minutes to complete, and you may need multiple sessions to achieve your desired level of whiteness. Some people have more stained teeth and may require more sessions than others.

Most people prefer this tooth whitening method because dentists take precautions to ensure that the bleach doesn’t come into contact with your gums or other tissues in your mouth. Also, they have the experience and training to know how much bleaching agent to use and how long to expose your teeth to it so that you get results without damaging your teeth. In addition, they provide you with professional advice on how to care for your whitened teeth so they can last.

2. At-Home Teeth Whitening

At-home teeth whitening is a popular alternative to in-office teeth whitening because it’s more affordable, and you can do it at your convenience. There are many at-home teeth whitening kits available for purchase online, in stores, or from your dentist: These products include:

  • Custom-fitted trays.
    You can get these mouthguards from your dentist, and they work by holding the bleaching gel against your teeth. You may use it for a couple of hours every day until you achieve your desired level of whiteness.

  • Over-the-counter whitening strips and gels.
    These are thin, flexible strips that you apply directly to your teeth. The strip or gel contains bleach to help reduce stains on your teeth. You can usually wear them for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, and you need to make multiple applications to see results.

  • Whitening toothpaste and pens.
    These contain mild abrasives that help minimise discolourations on your teeth, as well as bleaching agents that can penetrate deeper into your tooth enamel to break up stains.

  • Whitening mouth rinses.
    These mouthwashes contain ingredients like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which can help remove stains on your teeth.

To get the ideal results from at-home teeth whitening, you must follow the instructions carefully and use the products as directed. It’s also important to note that over-the-counter tooth whitening products are not as strong as in-office tooth whitening products and may take longer to work. Still, these products should not be abused, as this can increase unwanted risks.

Some people may also experience more side effects with at-home teeth whitening kits, such as increased sensitivity or irritation of the gums because of the bleaching agents. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, you must talk to your dentist before using any at-home teeth whitening products. They can help you find the right product for you and give you tips on how to use it to avoid complications.

Dental Problems That Teeth Whitening Can Address

Teeth whitening can be used to help improve a number of different dental problems, including:
Discolouration from Food, Drinks or Smoking

Unfortunately, some types of food and beverages can contribute to the discolouration of your teeth. They contain pigments that can penetrate your tooth enamel and cause stains. Some of these include:

  • Berries
  • Curry
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato sauce
  • Wine
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Cigarettes also contain nicotine and tar that can penetrate your tooth enamel and cause discolouration. If you smoke or use tobacco products, you may notice that your teeth become yellow or brown over time. Teeth whitening can help remove these types of stains and brighten your smile.

Staining from Medications (Such as Tetracycline)

Certain medications can also result in discoloured teeth. These drugs contain stains that can penetrate your tooth enamel and change the colour. Some of these medications include:

  • Tetracycline
  • Minocycline
  • Doxycycline
Age-Related Discolouration

As we get older, our tooth’s enamel (outer layer) becomes thinner, allowing the inner layer (dentin) to show through. Dentin is yellow in colour, which can make your teeth look yellow or brown over time. Teeth whitening can help make your teeth look shades lighter to give you a youthful smile.

Yellowing of the Teeth

As we get older, our tooth’s enamel (outer layer) becomes thinner, allowing the inner layer (dentin) tA build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth is commonly due to poor oral hygiene. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and tartar forms when plaque is not removed and hardens over time. The rough surfaces of tartar can attract and retain stains, causing your teeth to appear yellow.

Benefits of Teeth Whitening

From Coffee Stains to Yellow Teeth: The Ultimate Guide to Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening can address several dental problems, and it also offers various benefits, such as:

Boosts Self-Confidence

If you’re unhappy with how your teeth look, it can affect your self-confidence and how you feel about yourself. Teeth whitening can help boost your self-esteem by improving the colour of your teeth. After teeth whitening treatment, you may find yourself smiling more frequently.

It Can Help Make You Look Younger

As we age, our teeth naturally begin to yellow and discolour. This can make us look older than we actually are. Teeth whitening can help remove these types of stains and brighten your smile, giving you a more youthful appearance.

Quick Procedure

Compared to other dental procedures with the same purposes, teeth whitening is quick and easy and can be done in under an hour. You can also see immediate results if done in a dental office.

Affordable and Cost-effective

Teeth whitening is a popular and affordable cosmetic procedure to cut back on costly alternatives, such as veneers. Plus, it conserves your tooth enamel, which may need to be trimmed in other aesthetic dental treatments.

Can You Have Teeth Whitening Treatment If You Have Gum Disease?

Teeth whitening may have many advantages, but it is contraindicated for certain conditions. Gum disease is defined as the inflammation and infection of the gums. It’s caused by a build-up of bacterial plaque on your teeth as a result of poor oral hygiene. If you have gum disease, you must see your dentist for treatment or advice before having a teeth whitening treatment. This is because teeth whitening products can irritate the gums and worsen the condition. Once your gum disease is managed, you may be able to have teeth whitening treatment.

What Happens During an In-chair Whitening Treatment?

From Coffee Stains to Yellow Teeth: The Ultimate Guide to Teeth Whitening

On the day of your appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to ensure you’re a suitable candidate for the treatment.

  • If you are a suitable candidate, your dentist will clean your teeth and then apply a special gel to the front surfaces. This gel helps to open up the pores in your teeth so that the whitening agent can penetrate deep into the tooth enamel.

  • Your dentist will then place you under a special light that activates the whitening agent. The light is usually left on for around 15 minutes.

  • After the light has been turned off, your dentist will remove the gel from your teeth and rinse your mouth. They may need to repeat this step a few times. You may also be asked to return for multiple sessions to achieve the desired results.

  • Before you go home, your dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions.

What Happens During an At-Home Whitening Treatment?

This will depend on the type of at-home treatment you choose. The most common type of at-home teeth whitening are kits that come with a gel. You need to apply this to your teeth using a mouthguard. The mouthguard is worn for around 30 minutes to an hour each day or as directed by your dentist. The length of time you need to use the whitening gel will depend on the concentration of the whitening agent. You may see results after a few days or weeks.

Are There Any Risks with Teeth Whitening Treatment?

While professional whitening treatments are generally safe, there are some risks involved. These risks include:

Tooth Sensitivity

Teeth whitening can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. This is usually due to the bleaching agents used in the treatment, but it should go away within a few days or weeks after treatment.

If you use over-the-counter products at home, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Using too much whitening gel or leaving it on your teeth for too long can increase the risk of this side effect.

Gum Irritation

The bleaching agents in teeth whitening products can also irritate the gums. This should resolve within a few days or weeks after treatment.

Talk to your dentist before having a teeth whitening treatment if you have sensitive gums or gum disease. They may recommend a different treatment that is less likely to cause irritation.

Risk of Allergic Reaction

There is also a risk of an allergic reaction to the ingredients in teeth whitening products. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Swelling of the gums

Stop using the product and see your dentist immediately if you experience these symptoms.

What Can You Expect After Teeth Whitening Treatment?

  • Whiter Teeth
    After whitening your teeth, you can expect to see a difference in the colour of your teeth. The results will depend on the type of treatment you had and the severity of the staining. In-chair whitening treatments usually provide the most dramatic results. At-home whitening treatments may take longer and multiple applications to produce noticeable results.

  • More Confidence to Smile Often
    Having the bright smile you’ve always dreamt of can boost your confidence and make you more likely to show off your smile.

  • Regular Touch-ups
    You may need to have regular touch-ups to maintain the results of your treatment. The frequency of these will depend on the type of treatment you had and how well you take care of your teeth. For example, if you smoke or drink coffee, tea, or red wine, you may need to come back to the dentist more often than someone who doesn’t.

  • Tooth Sensitivity
    As mentioned above, tooth sensitivity is a common side effect of teeth whitening treatments. But in most cases, it resolves a few weeks after treatment. See your dentist for advice if you experience severe or prolonged tooth sensitivity.

  • Gum or Gingival Irritation
    Teeth whitening products can also cause gum irritation due to the bleaching agents in these products. As mentioned above, this should go away within a few days or weeks after treatment.

  • Risk of Allergic Reaction
    There is also an allergic reaction risk to the ingredients in teeth whitening products.
    Watch out for the signs mentioned in the previous section to determine if you have an allergy and contact your dentist at once.

How Can You Maintain Your Whitened Teeth?

You play a significant part in maintaining your whitened teeth by taking some measures, such as:

  • Practising Good Oral Hygiene.
    Toothbrushing for at least two minutes twice daily and flossing once a day help to remove plaque and prevent staining. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen your teeth and protects them from decay.

  • Eating Healthy Foods.
    Healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, help keep your teeth healthy and strong. Avoid or limit your intake of sugary and acidic foods, as these can cause tooth enamel to break down, making your teeth more susceptible to staining.

  • Consider Quitting or Avoiding Smoking.
    Smoking can discolour your teeth and increase your risk of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. If you currently smoke, quitting is the best way to protect your teeth and gums.

  • Avoiding Teeth-Staining Foods and Drinks.
    Some foods and drinks can cause stains, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and soda. They contain pigments that can adhere to your teeth. If you can’t avoid these foods and drinks, be sure to brush your teeth soon after consuming them.

  • Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings.
    Schedule at least two appointments or more per year with your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. They will remove plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth, which can cause staining. They can also determine if you have any underlying dental problems, such as gum disease, which can lead to staining.

How Much Does an In-chair Teeth Whitening Cost?

While the cost of professional teeth whitening varies depending on the type of treatment you have, your location, your dentist, and your condition, the average price of in-chair teeth whitening treatment in Australia is \$260 per tooth, plus the cost of a complimentary consultation that can cost up to \$280. Note that this price is just an estimate and can change depending on your assessment.

On the other hand, you may spend up to $610 if you buy an at-home teeth whitening kit.

Does Your Health Fund Cover the Cost of Your Teeth Whitening treatment?

In Australia, health fund providers usually don’t cover teeth whitening procedures because they are considered cosmetic treatments. There are a few exceptional cases where your procedure might be covered if it is deemed medically necessary to improve your oral health.

If you want to have your teeth whitening treatment covered by your health insurance, you need to get a referral from your general dentist first. Your dentist will assess whether you’re suitable for the procedure and provide you with a referral to see an oral health specialist. It is best to contact your provider to see if you’re covered.

What Are the Other Alternatives to Teeth Whitening Treatment?

Other alternatives to teeth whitening can help you achieve a brighter smile. Some of these include:

  • Dental Veneers.
    Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells covering your teeth’s front surfaces. They are created from composite resin or porcelain and improve the appearance of your teeth by masking stains and imperfections.

  • Dental Bonding.
    Dental bonding is when a tooth-coloured resin is applied to your teeth and hardened with a special light. This can help repair chips and cracks and cover stains on your teeth.

  • Dental Crowns.
    Dental crowns are covers placed over your teeth. They can be made from porcelain, ceramic or a combination of metal and ceramic. They can help enhance the shape, size and colour of your teeth.

Some people with other dental procedures, such as veneers, may wonder if they can whiten their teeth. Unfortunately, teeth whitening treatment will not work on dental restorations because they do not absorb bleaching agents, unlike our natural teeth.

Final Thoughts

Teeth whitening can help you achieve whiter teeth, boosting your self-confidence. There are different methods to achieve this, with the in-office or in-chair as the most effective because dentists use higher concentrations of bleaching agents. However, you have to note that this dental procedure is not for everybody. If you have contraindications, your dentist may need to address them first or recommend alternatives, depending on your situation.

Are you considering teeth whitening treatment and unsure if you are a good candidate or have other concerns?

If you are planning to have teeth whitening treatment and would like to learn more about whether it is right for you, you may call us at (08) 9349-0800. You may also send us a message on our website if you prefer.

Comfort Care Dental has been providing dental care services to the community for 50 years now. Our services include Invisalign, root canal therapy, dental implants, dental fillings, dentures, smile makeovers and many more. We have two warm and compassionate dentists who will look after you, and our friendly staff members will ensure you are comfortable during your appointment. Book an appointment with us today!


Dr. Karthik Lakkaraju

For Dr Karthik, dentistry is the complete package. He most enjoys the feeling he gets when he sees a patient achieve a beautiful smile, or can put an end to pain and increase the quality of life. He believes oral health is a mirror of general health and reflects the person’s personality and confidence.

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