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July 31, 2023

Comparing Teeth Whitening Methods: At-Home DIY vs. Professional Treatment

woman teeth before and after whitening. Over white background. Dental clinic patient. Image symbolizes oral care dentistry, stomatology

*The before and after photo in this article is for illustrative purposes only*

Exploring the Best Approach for Teeth Whitening and Understanding the Risks Involved

A conversation that often takes place between our team and patients at Commercial Road Dental is whether at home teeth whitening treatments are as effective as getting a professional treatment carried out by our team. When it comes to teeth whitening, we understand that a bright, dazzling smile is a highly desirable attribute that enhances our confidence and overall appearance.

However, various factors such as ageing, consumption of certain foods and beverages, smoking, and poor oral hygiene can contribute to tooth stains and discoloration over time. Fortunately, advancements in dental technology have made teeth whitening an increasingly popular and accessible solution.

Now, the question arises: Which approach is more advantageous—seeking professional dental treatment or opting for at-home methods? Join us as we embark on a journey to explore these options and uncover the answer.

Firstly, can yellow teeth be whitened?

The answer is a definite Yes!

There are various techniques available that can successfully restore the whiteness of yellow or discoloured teeth. These include professional teeth whitening treatments performed by dentists as well as take-home whitening trays provided by dental professionals.

The number of treatment sessions or the intensity required to achieve desired results may vary depending on the extent of discoloration and underlying factors affecting your teeth.

What Causes Teeth Discolouration?

Teeth discoloration can occur due to various factors, including:

  1. Food and Drinks: Certain foods and beverages like coffee, tea, red wine, berries, and highly pigmented sauces can stain the enamel of the teeth over time.
  1. Tobacco Use: Both smoking and chewing tobacco can lead to yellow or brown stains on the teeth.
  1. Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate brushing, flossing, and regular dental care can allow plaque and tartar buildup, which can contribute to tooth discoloration.
  1. Age: As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel naturally wears down, revealing the yellowish dentin underneath, which can make the teeth appear discoloured.
  1. Medications: Some medications, such as certain antibiotics (e.g., tetracycline), antihistamines, and high blood pressure medications, can cause teeth discoloration as a side effect.
  1. Dental Trauma: An injury to the teeth, such as a fall or impact, can damage the tooth structure and result in discoloration.
  1. Genetic Factors: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to having naturally darker or more yellowish teeth.

Understanding the causes of tooth discoloration can help in determining appropriate preventive measures and treatment options for achieving a brighter smile.

Which Treatment Option Takes the Crown?

The quest for the best teeth whitening treatment is highly individualised, hinging upon your unique requirements and personal inclinations. It is essential to weigh the benefits and considerations of both in-chair and take-home teeth whitening methods.

In-Chair Teeth Whitening:

The in-chair teeth whitening method comes with a range of advantages, including instant results and the oversight of dental professionals throughout the procedure.

During an in-chair teeth whitening session, a powerful bleaching gel is carefully applied to the teeth, often enhanced by the use of specialised light or laser technology to intensify the whitening process. Typically, the entire treatment takes approximately one to two hours, and multiple sessions may be advised to attain optimal results.

Take-Home Teeth Whitening Kits:

Take-Home teeth whitening kits offer a practical and budget-friendly option to traditional in-chair treatments. These kits consist of custom-fitted trays and a high-quality bleaching gel, designed specifically for home use following your dentist’s instructions.

While take-home kits may require a longer duration to achieve visible results compared to in-chair treatments, they provide the flexibility of whitening your teeth at your preferred convenience and within the comforts of your own home. This approach is particularly well-suited for individuals with sensitive teeth, who may appreciate the gentle and gradual whitening process offered by these kits.

How Do I Whiten My Teeth at Home?

If you prefer to whiten your teeth in the cosy confines of your own home, a take-home whitening kit with personalised dental trays and a whitening gel can be the ideal solution. Your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions on how to apply the whitening gel for optimal results.

While at-home teeth whitening kits may require more time to achieve noticeable outcomes compared to the immediate effects of in-practice whitening, the convenience they offer is unmatched. The process simply involves wearing your whitening trays for a few hours during the day or overnight, making it a hassle-free option for brightening your smile at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.

Are Teeth Whitening Through DIY Methods Viable & Safe?

There are a wide range of DIY products that claim to deliver instant results and a radiant smile. However, it is crucial to recognize that many of these products can, at best, be ineffective and, at worst, pose potential harm and danger.

Opting for non-professional teeth whitening treatments carries a heightened risk of adverse effects, including potential damage to teeth and gums, and even the possibility of exacerbating discoloration. Undoubtedly, the safest and most effective choice is to seek professional teeth whitening services from your dentist.

The Potential Risks of At-Home Teeth Whitening

The internet is flooded with DIY teeth whitening techniques and home remedies that promise quick and budget-friendly solutions. However, it is crucial to approach these alternatives with utmost caution.

Methods like lemon juice, baking soda, or charcoal may seem appealing due to their accessibility and cost-effectiveness. However, they can pose significant risks to your oral health. Lemon juice, for instance, is highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and an increased vulnerability to cavities. Improper or excessive use of baking soda and charcoal can also damage the enamel and irritate the gums.

Opting for non-professional teeth whitening treatments carries an elevated risk of adverse effects, including potential damage to both teeth and gums, which could potentially worsen the discoloration. Undoubtedly, the safest and most effective approach is to seek professional teeth whitening services from your dentist.

How Much is Teeth Whitening in Australia?

The cost of teeth whitening can vary based on the chosen method.

In-chair teeth whitening treatments conducted by dental professionals usually range from $600 to $1,000, depending on the complexity and the desired level of whitening.

On the other hand, take-home teeth whitening kits are generally more affordable, with an average price range of $300 to $400. Please note that these figures are approximate and may vary depending on individual dental practices and geographical locations.

Is Teeth Whitening Covered by Medicare in Australia?

Since teeth whitening is categorized as a cosmetic procedure rather than a medical one, it is typically not covered by Medicare. However, some private health insurance policies may offer coverage for teeth whitening. To determine if your provider offers any potential coverage, it is advisable to check with them directly.

How Long Does Professional Teeth Whitening Last?

The longevity of teeth whitening results can differ based on individual factors, including oral hygiene habits, dietary choices, and lifestyle behaviours. Typically, professional teeth whitening effects can persist for several months to a year or even longer.

To extend the duration of your whitened teeth, it is crucial to maintain good oral hygiene practices, reduce the intake of staining substances such as coffee or red wine, and consider periodic touch-up treatments as advised by your dentist.

For comprehensive details regarding teeth whitening options and to discover the offerings available at Commercial Road Dental, visit our services page.

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