How Does Teeth Whitening Treatment Work?

Book An Appointment Or Call : (08) 9349-0800

Let’s admit it. We would love to have whiter teeth. A recent survey by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) shows that 22% of Australians have whitened their teeth. According to their data, there has been an 8% increase in the last five years. Maybe the biggest reason for this is that this dental cosmetic procedure can help give them a whiter smile, boosting their confidence.

There is a number of ways to achieve brighter teeth. However, the most common way is through teeth whitening. But how does teeth whitening work? Is it really effective? How long does it last?

This article answers these questions and more—all about teeth whitening.

Teeth Whitening: A Brief Background

untitled design (27)

The desire for whiter teeth is not new, dating back to ancient times. One of the earliest methods was using human and animal urine because it contains ammonia. This substance has bleaching properties that can remove stains on teeth. While this is not done today, it shows that people have always sought ways to achieve brighter teeth.

People are born with different tooth colours. This is largely determined by the genetics of a person. However, teeth can also become darker as a person ages when the tooth enamel wears away. Certain types of food and beverages we consume and other lifestyle habits such as smoking can also cause tooth discolourations and yellowing.

Though some people are lucky enough to be born with white teeth, others may need help to achieve it. This is where teeth whitening comes in.

Simply put, teeth whitening is a dental procedure that aims to make teeth look brighter and whiter using bleaching agents, such as hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. You have to note, though, that this procedure is not for everyone. It can only be done on people with healthy gums and teeth to ensure that the bleaching agents will not cause any damage to your oral health. In most cases, your dentist will address these dental conditions before starting the teeth whitening process or recommend another alternative, depending on your situation.

There are two methods of teeth whitening treatment, including:

1. In-Office or In-Chair Teeth Whitening

In-office or in-chair teeth whitening is done by a dentist or certified dental professional in their clinic. This is the more popular method because it is faster and more effective, giving results in the first session. This is because they use higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Depending on the severity of your teeth stains, the dentist may need to do more than one session. This cosmetic treatment usually takes up to an hour or more, depending on the amount of teeth stains and discolourations, to complete. During this time, your dentist will apply a bleaching agent to your teeth and use a UV light to speed up the process.

2. At-Home Teeth Whitening

You can buy at-home teeth whitening kits in most pharmacies, online stores, and even from your dentist. These kits contain active ingredients and instructions on how to use them. Some kits also come with mouth trays that fit over your teeth. Usually, these products only remove or reduce surface or extrinsic stains from teeth.

The most common at-home teeth whitening method is using custom-fitted mouth trays, which you can get from your dentist. These trays are created to fit your teeth snugly and hold the bleaching gel or paste in place over your teeth. You can use them for a specific period of time, depending on how strong the bleaching agent is and your dentist’s instructions.

There are also other at-home options you can use, including:

  • Teeth whitening strips.
    These are thin, flexible strips coated with a bleaching agent. Depending on the instructions, you need to place them on your teeth for 30 minutes to an hour.

  • Whitening toothpaste.
    This contains abrasives and chemicals that remove surface stains on your teeth.

  • Whitening pens.
    These are gel-filled pens that you apply to the front surfaces of your teeth.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Although there are different methods of teeth whitening, they all work by using bleaching agents that contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These agents work by breaking down the molecules that cause the stains. As a result, your teeth appear brighter and whiter.

Is Teeth Whitening Treatment Painful?

In most cases, teeth whitening is not painful. However, a common side effect is tooth sensitivity. This is temporary and should resolve in days to weeks. In some cases, people also experience gum irritation. This usually happens when the bleaching solution comes in contact with the gums.

When Can You Expect the Results of Teeth Whitening?

You can expect to see results after the first session of in-office treatment. At-home teeth whitening may take several days to months before you see any change. They may also need to be applied more often before the results become noticeable. The length of time usually depends on the severity of the discolouration, the method you choose, and how well you follow the instructions.

For example, it can take up to 3 months to see your natural teeth 1 to 2 shades lighter when you use teeth whitening rinses. On the other hand, if you religiously follow the manufacturer’s instructions for tray-based tooth whiteners, your teeth can become 1 to 2 shades lighter after a few days.

Here’s a summary of the different teeth whitening treatment methods with the estimated time frame to see results:

  • In-office/in-chair teeth whitening:
    You can see results in the first session, anywhere from 2 to 8 shades lighter.

  • At-home teeth whitening with strips and gels:
    You can see your teeth 1 to 2 shades lighter within several days.

  • Whitening toothpaste:
    This can lighten your natural teeth by one to two shades when you use it twice a day for 2 to 6 weeks.

  • Whitening gels and tray-based whiteners:
    You can see your teeth 1 to 2 shades lighter after using them for three months.

However, it’s important to note that this is just an estimate and varies individually, depending on different factors.

Is There a Risk Related to Teeth Whitening?

This type of dental treatment is generally safe. However, as with any other dental treatment, there are risks associated with it, such as:

Tooth Sensitivity

This is the most common teeth whitening side effect. It often resolves on its own after a few days or weeks. Sometimes it can be prolonged, especially if you have sensitive teeth before the treatment and didn’t follow the manufacturer’s or your dentist’s instructions. When this happens, it’s important to contact your dentist at once.

Gum Irritation

The bleaching agents used in teeth whitening products can cause irritation and redness of the gums. This usually goes away after a few days. If you have sensitive gums, your dentist will take precautions to protect them during the treatment.

If you’re considering teeth whitening, you should talk to your dentist first. They will be able to suggest the ideal treatment method for you based on the severity of the stains and your oral health.

Benefits of Teeth Whitening

Although there are risks associated with teeth whitening, it makes your teeth look cleaner and brighter. They also offer a few other benefits, such as:

Boosting Your Confidence

A whiter and brighter smile can significantly improve your confidence. This is especially true if you’ve always been self-conscious about your stained or discoloured teeth.

Making You Look Younger

Teeth whitening can help make you appear younger by removing the yellow stains that tend to form on your teeth as you age.

Conservative and Affordable Cosmetic Alternative

Teeth whitening is less expensive than other dental procedures such as veneers. They also preserve your natural tooth structure, which may need to be reduced in other treatments.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Results Last?

The results can last several months to 3 years in case of an in-office tooth whitening procedure. However, this will depend on your lifestyle and habits. For example, the stains may come back quickly if you smoke or drink coffee or tea regularly. In this case, you may need touch-ups every six months to keep them looking great.

If you use over-the-counter tooth whiteners, the results will only last for several weeks to months. This is because the whitening agents in these products are not as strong as those used by dentists. You may need to use them more often to maintain the results.


What Food And Drinks Should You Avoid After Whitening Treatment?

For ideal results, it’s best to avoid foods and drinks that can stain your teeth for at least 24 hours after a teeth whitening treatment. These include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Soda
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Berries
  • Beets
  • Curry
  • Popsicles
  • Dark-coloured juices

If you can, avoid or limit your intake of these products. If this can’t be prevented, it’s always best to brush your teeth after consuming them. You should also avoid using mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as this can dry out your teeth and make them more susceptible to staining.

How to Care for Your Whitened Teeth

Now that you’re aware of what to avoid, here’s a guide on how to take care of your teeth after a tooth whitening treatment:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush on your teeth for at least two minutes twice daily. Note that hard bristles can damage your teeth and gums, especially when used aggressively.

  • To help remove plaque and tartar, floss your teeth at least once a day. Remember that these can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Tartar can also retain stains because they have rough surfaces.

  • Use whitening toothpaste to help keep your teeth looking their best.

  • Avoid stain-causing foods and drinks for at least 24 hours after the treatment.

  • Avoid or limit your intake of sugary foods and beverages as these can promote tooth decay.

  • Quit or limit smoking. Smoking is harmful to your overall dental health, and it can also stain your teeth.

  • Set at least two appointments with your dentist per year for regular checkups and cleanings. They can spot potential problems that can make your whitened teeth vulnerable to staining.

In Conclusion

Teeth whitening procedure is a common cosmetic dental option that can help boost your confidence and give you a youthful smile. You can opt for professional teeth whitening, which is the most effective method because dentists use higher concentrations of active bleaching agents. You can also do DIY tooth whitening at home, but this is less effective and will take longer to see results. If you have gum/gingival disease or other dental issues, you may not be a good candidate for teeth whitening. Instead, your dentist may address these or recommend another treatment with the same benefits. In addition, you play a major part in maintaining your whiter teeth with your lifestyle and oral health habits.

If you are interested in this procedure, feel free to contact our dental office at (08) 9349-0800 to set up an appointment. We will be more than happy to help you improve your smile and your teeth.

Here at Comfort Care Dental, we offer various dental services, including Invisalign, dental implants, veneers, wisdom teeth removal, root canal therapy, teeth whitening, and more. Because we understand that every patient’s situation differs, we offer customised treatment plans to meet your individual needs. We ensure you feel comfortable and safe throughout your teeth whitening and other dental procedures. Contact us now and meet our team of friendly staff!


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.

Schedule An Appointment With Our Team !

At Comfort Care Dental, we offer quality care and individualized treatment plans. Our team is passionate about oral health and invested in helping our patients achieve their dental goals. Schedule an appointment with us today to start on the path to a healthy smile!

Book An Appointment