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  • Writer's pictureDr Gautam Herle


Updated: Sep 25, 2020

As published on Prosperi Press

Given the recent rise in the popularity of various DIY teeth whitening kits, many people are also wisely seeking a professional opinion and advice on the subject. Here we address seven of the most common questions regarding teeth whitening. Let’s get to it!

1. What’s the main difference between professional whitening and at home whitening?

Professional whitening is performed in the dentist’s chair using a higher concentration of peroxides, while protecting your gums. This works on superficial layers of the teeth.

The second type is ‘DIY’ at-home teeth whitening, which uses a solution with 10-16% peroxide. This is done through using custom-made trays to deliver the peroxide. This process needs the user to use an apparatus for 60 minutes, or overnight. It’s a method which works on the deeper layers of the tooth enamel.

Most dentists will lean towards recommending a professional take-home kit, as it is gentler to the teeth and works better, reserving in-chair whitening for when people need their teeth whitened quickly (for a special event, for example).

Both procedures can be done once you’ve been given the ‘all clear’, ensuring you don’t have any cavities.

2. How do teeth whitening strips work?

Teeth whitening strips contain peroxide or bleach, although they use a lower concentration than what you’d find in a bottle under the laundry sink. As a result, they work to whiten your teeth the same way bleach works to whiten your clothes, or peroxide your hair. The peroxide bleaches color from your teeth to restore their natural, white color.

3. If using whitening strips at home, what’s safest/best practice?

There are a few things to keep in mind when using whitening strips at home: first, make sure you consult with your dentist for the best teeth whitening options for you. You’ll get expert advice as to why and how your teeth have darkened, and other remedies you might want to explore first.

Once you’ve purchased your whitening product, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely. Do what you can to avoid the cheapest option (it goes without saying you shouldn’t purchase them from a discount store!). A lot of DIY remedies appear on the internet, but you should be very mindful of these. Avoid dark, or highly colored food and drinks after you’ve had the whitening done, especially coffee or tea. Also, once you’ve had the whitening done, maintain the new sheen with whitening toothpastes and mouth washes.

Keep in mind that the treatment won’t last forever, so keep up with your maintenance.

4. What’s the most common mistake people make when attempting to whiten teeth at home?

The most common mistake people make is using too much of the whitening product and damaging their gums. Other mistakes include not having consulted with your dentist, and not following the instructions completely.

5. Is there anyone who should avoid attempting teeth whitening strips at home (such as people with sensitive teeth)?

There are a couple of important groups of people to keep in mind. Women who are either pregnant or breast-feeding shouldn’t undertake any teeth whitening treatments at all. If you have any teeth with cavities, there’s a very good chance the cavities will get bigger and deeper if teeth whitening is done; which is obviously something you’re going to want to avoid. Receding gums can also make you more susceptible to sensitivity.

6. Are there any other ways you recommend for people to brighten or maintain whiter teeth?

Brushing your teeth twice a day will help control external stains. Excessive consumption of coffee, tea and wine after your teeth have been whitened will also mean your teeth will stain again quickly.

7. What are the benefits of tongue cleaning for overall oral health?

Tongue cleaning reduces the coating and plaque over your tongue and helps in reducing halitosis (aka ‘bad breath’).

Effective, long-term teeth whitening will require maintenance, which will include re-doing the treatment periodically to maintain the sparkling white color. For the best results possible, consider what your long-term expectations are for the color of your teeth and follow the advice above to best maintain it. And – again – always consult with your dentist before attempting any kind of dental treatment at home.

About the Author

Dr Gautam Herle is an Indian Australian, and the principal dentist at Myers Street Dental Clinic in Geelong, Victoria. Dr Herle is currently earning his Masters in Laser Dentistry, and will soon be only one of 12 dentists in Australia to have achieved this exciting qualification.

Dr Herle is living his ‘Australian dream’ in Geelong, where he’s lived for the past decade with his wife, two sons, and two golden retrievers.

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