black coffee and how it impact teeth whitening Toowong Orthodontics

How does teeth whitening work?

In this age of social media and selfies it seems that there has been a huge increase in the amount of people who want whiter teeth. With so many teeth whitening options on offer, it’s no surprise that many people are confused about teeth whitening treatments and which option would work best for their teeth and budget.

Which option to choose often comes down to the answer to some key questions:

  1. What teeth whitening options are best for my teeth?
  2. How white will my teeth go?
  3. How long will it take for them to get that white?
  4. How long does teeth whitening last?
  5. How much does teeth whitening cost?

To give you more clarity, we will attempt to explain the process of teeth whitening and answer these questions.

Why do teeth stain?

Teeth stain because tooth enamel is porous and absorbs the colours from the food and drink we consume. Sometimes the staining can be just on the surface of the teeth. A really thorough scale and clean with the hygienist can instantly make teeth that have only this surface staining look whiter, and even if this is not the case, it is always recommended that prior to doing any teeth whitening, a thorough clean should be performed. Over time, staining can penetrate deeper into the tooth enamel and when this happens, cleaning alone will not be able to remove this type of deep staining. At this point, teeth whitening can help.

How does teeth whitening work?

Most whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These chemicals penetrate into tooth enamel and chemically break down the staining. Whitening products vary in terms of the concentration and this is why some whitening products and procedures work better and/or faster than others.

Who is suitable for teeth whitening?

Not everyone is suitable for teeth whitening. We recommend a consultation with a dental professional to determine which option would be the most appropriate as well as to discuss the risks and benefits along with an indication of likely results. We do not recommend whitening for people with crowns, veneers, periodontal disease, those requiring dental restorations, children, pregnant or breastfeeding women. As some teeth whitening may exacerbate tooth sensitivity, your dental professional may recommend a prophylactic course of a recalcifying agent prior to the whitening procedure.

In-clinic teeth whitening

This option is by far the quickest and most effective way to whiten teeth, it takes a single 1 hour appointment to achieve noticeably whiter teeth. For those wanting that super white Hollywood smile, this is the easiest and most cost-effective way to achieve that look. However, results from any type of teeth whitening procedure will differ from person to person. We offer a Philips Zoom In-clinic whitening treatment, that gives you a whiter smile in one hour. We use a highly concentrated whitening gel (only available to dental professionals) and a light to speed up the penetration of the gel through the enamel.

Find out more about this treatment, here.

Take home teeth whitening kits

You can purchase a take home whitening kits from a dental professional. The process involves firstly taking impressions of the teeth to manufacture custom clear trays made to fit over teeth like a thin mouthguard or orthodontic retainer. Next, the dental professional will supply you with a whitening agent to take home. At home, simply place the whitening gel into the trays and put it into your mouth for a set period of time (depending on the product used). Then remove the trays and brush your teeth to remove the gel. Repeat this over a week or two, until you reach the desired shade.

This whitening agent is not as concentrated as that used for in-clinic whitening and this is what influences the rate of teeth whitening. Whitening kits cost about half the price of in-clinic whitening treatment. However, once the whitening kits are made, they will last for a number of years and most dental professionals will sell the whitening agent on its own, so it’s a great option to maintain your white smile. Some people who have the in-clinic whitening treatment will also purchase a take home kit, which they use to maintain their new shade.

Find out more about this treatment, here.

Teeth whitening pens and strips

These products are readily available at the supermarket or online. They all contain some form of peroxide, which works as the whitening agent. However, due to the concentration of the peroxide it’s likely that moderately or heavily stained teeth will not be lightened more than one or two shades with these types of products.

Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash

Purchased from the supermarket, these products have a reduced amount of active whitening ingredient as they are routinely used twice daily. Often the combination of a whitening toothpaste and whitening mouthwash can be quite abrasive to tooth enamel, so, we recommend using one of these products not both. As with whitening pens and strips, the results with these products will vary depending on how dark or yellow the tooth is to begin with. Tooth enamel may lighten between one or two shades. The cost of whitening toothpaste and mouthwash varies between supermarkets and products however expect to pay around $10 for a good whitening toothpaste.

How long does teeth whitening last?

Teeth whitening won’t last forever and how long it does last for varies considerably. Often it depends on each individual’s oral hygiene practices and the types of food and drink consumed. Typically, the in-clinic whitening will have the longest lasting results as the hydrogen peroxide penetrates deeper into the enamel. However, many people are happy with the results achieved with the take home whitening kit as they are able to give themselves a top up whenever they like, most commonly before a big event or milestone to ensure they achieve a whiter smile.


As orthodontic specialists, we offer the most effective whitening treatments, in-clinic whitening and take home whitening kits. Find out more about our whitening options here and start your journey to a whiter smile.