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Teeth Whitening | Options & Costs in Australia

teeth whitening

Teeth Whitening | Options & Costs in Australia

teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is a fast, effective option for increasing aesthetic appeal and boosting confidence! With multiple different methods available, it’s accessible to most people and could be a more suitable option than alternatives like veneers or dental bonding.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that lightens the colour of teeth by removing surface and deeper stains. It involves applying a bleaching agent, typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which breaks down stains through chemical reactions, resulting in a whiter smile.

It’s important to note that whitening is not a permanent solution. Your dietary and lifestyle habits can re-stain the teeth, and you’ll need maintenance treatments to preserve their brightness.

Why do People Whiten their Teeth?

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Whiter teeth are often associated with beauty and a healthy lifestyle. People feel that a bright smile enhances their overall appearance and boosts their self-confidence.
  • Special Occasions: Many people whiten their teeth in preparation for special events such as weddings, job interviews, or social gatherings where they want to look their best.
  • Ageing: As we age, our teeth can naturally become yellow or darker. Whitening helps to counteract this process and restore a youthful appearance.
  • Psychological Benefits: A brighter smile can positively affect your mood and self-esteem, which will help you feel more comfortable and content.
  • Professional Image: In certain professions, having a white smile is seen as important. People in public roles, such as actors, models, and salespeople, frequently whiten their teeth to keep up a professional image.

Common Causes of Tooth Staining and Discolouration

Tooth stains can happen as a result of external factors (extrinsic causes) or internal factors (intrinsic causes). Here are the most common of both:

Extrinsic Causes of Tooth Staining

Extrinsic stains appear on the outer layer of the tooth, known as the enamel. This type of staining is caused by the pigments in certain foods and drinks that stain the surface of your teeth, which leads to discolouration.

extrinsic causes of tooth staining
tooth staining and extrinsic causes

Food and Beverages

  • Coffee and Tea: High in tannins, these beverages can leave a yellow or brown residue over time.
  • Red Wine: Known for its acidity and rich colour, red wine can cause significant staining.
  • Coloured Beverages: Drinks such as soda, some fruit juices, and sports drinks are often high in colourants and acids.
  • Berries and Other Dark-Coloured Foods: Foods like blueberries, pomegranates, and soy sauce, which have intense colours, can stain teeth.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco products, whether smoked or chewed, contain tar and nicotine that contribute to brownish or yellowish tooth stains.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Inadequate brushing and flossing fail to remove substances that discolour teeth. This allows stains from food and drink to become more permanent.

Intrinsic Causes of Tooth Staining

Intrinsic stains occur within the tooth itself, affecting the dentine, which is the layer beneath the enamel. These stains can be caused by:

Ageing

Over time, the outer enamel layer thins from wear and brushing. This exposes the yellowish dentine underneath.

Trauma

Injuries to the mouth can cause changes in the colour of the tooth. This is because the internal tooth structure is damaged or disrupts enamel formation.

Medications

Certain medications, particularly antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline, can discolour teeth when given to children during tooth development. Some antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications also cause tooth discolouration as a side effect.

Fluorosis

Excessive fluoride, especially in children whose teeth are still developing, can lead to fluorosis. Fluorosis typically appears as white lines or streaks on the teeth.

Teeth Whitening Methods

teeth whitening methods
Types of teeth whitening

In-Chair Teeth Whitening Treatments

In-chair teeth whitening treatments are done by dental professionals. These treatments generally use higher concentrations of peroxide than those available for home use. The process involves applying a peroxide-based whitening gel to the teeth, which is then activated by a specialised light or laser to enhance its effectiveness.

Laser Teeth Whitening

Laser teeth whitening at the dentist is a specific type of in-chair treatment that uses laser light to accelerate the bleaching process. A peroxide whitening gel is applied to the teeth, and a laser is directed at the teeth to improve the action of the whitening agent.

At-Home Teeth Whitening

Tray-Based Systems

Tray-based teeth whitening systems use custom-fit trays made especially for you by your dentist. Here’s how they are prepared and used:

  1. Dental Visit for Impressions: First, you visit your dentist, who takes an impression of your teeth. This might be done with a soft material that you bite into, or using a special scanner.
  2. Making the Trays: The impressions are sent to a dental lab where your custom trays are made. These trays are made of a clear, flexible plastic that fits closely over your teeth. This tight fit helps the whitening gel work better.
  3. Applying Whitening Gel: Once the trays are ready, your dentist gives them to you along with a whitening gel. You put a small amount of this gel into the trays and wear them over your teeth. The trays help keep the gel right against your teeth to improve whitening.

The duration for wearing custom-fit trays varies based on the peroxide gel concentration. For gels with 10–22% peroxide, trays are typically worn for 30 minutes to 2 hours daily. With higher concentrations (around 35%), they may be worn for just 30 minutes to minimise sensitivity.

The overall treatment typically spans 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the desired whitening effect and your dentist’s recommendations.

Is Teeth Whitening Right for You?

Teeth whitening can be a great way to brighten your smile, but it’s not suitable for everyone. Understanding who makes a good candidate and who should proceed with caution can help you make an informed decision.

Professional Teeth Whitening

You’ll be more than satisfied with the results and be a great candidate for professional teeth whitening if you have:

Is teeth whitening right for you?
Am I a candidate for teeth whitening?
  • Healthy Teeth and Gums: People with generally healthy teeth and gums are ideal candidates. This means no active cavities, gum disease, or other oral health issues.
  • Realistic Expectations: Teeth whitening works best on yellow or brownish stains caused by ageing, coffee, tea, or smoking. It may not be as effective on greyish stains caused by certain medications or tooth trauma.
  • Commitment to Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene practices before and after whitening is crucial for optimal and long-lasting results.

Who Should Consult a Dentist First?

  • Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women: The safety of teeth whitening during pregnancy or breastfeeding has not been fully established. It’s best to consult with your dentist or doctor before proceeding.
  • Individuals with Existing Dental Issues: If you have cavities, gum disease, tooth sensitivity, or worn enamel, teeth whitening may worsen these conditions. It’s essential to address these issues before trying any teeth whitening treatments.
  • Individuals with Certain Restorations: Teeth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel. It won’t change the colour of fillings, crowns, or veneers. If you have these restorations on visible teeth, discuss alternative options with your dentist.

Why Should You Consider Professional Whitening?

Safe and Effective Treatment

Dentists use safe and effective bleaching agents in controlled environments. This minimises the risk of tooth sensitivity or gum irritation often associated with over-the-counter products. They also ensure that the whitening agent is applied properly, protecting your tooth enamel and gum tissue.

Efficacy

Professional whitening treatments have the potential to brighten your smile by up to 8 shades of white! Dentists have access to stronger whitening agents and specialised equipment, such as lasers or LED lights, that accelerate the whitening process.

Customised Treatment Plan

Unlike one-size-fits-all kits, professional whitening is tailored to your needs. Dentists can adjust the concentration of the whitening agent and the duration of treatment to match your tooth sensitivity and whitening goals. This personalisation helps achieve the best possible outcomes.

Long-Lasting Results

The effects of professional whitening can last between 6 months and 3 years. This is longer than what can be achieved with DIY kits, especially with proper care like steering clear of staining foods and drinks and maintaining good oral hygiene. Dentists also offer advice on how to prolong and maintain your fresh, white smile.

Quick and Convenient

Professional whitening is a quick process. It typically takes about an hour in the dentist’s office. This is much faster than multiple weeks of daily treatment at home, which makes it ideal for busy people.

Boosting Oral Hygiene

Professional teeth whitening often includes a deep cleaning session by a dentist. This step not only prepares your teeth for whitening, but it significantly enhances your teeth’s initial brightness.

Deep cleaning removes plaque and tartar that regular brushing and flossing cannot, and improves both the appearance and health of your teeth. This process promotes long-term oral hygiene and overall dental health.

What to Expect at Your Teeth Whitening Appointment

  • Consultation and Evaluation: Your dentist checks your dental health and discusses your whitening goals.
  • Choosing the Right Shade: You’ll pick a target shade for your teeth using a shade guide.
  • Cleaning: Your teeth are cleaned to remove plaque and ensure an even application of the whitening agent.
  • Application of Whitening Agent: A protective gel is applied to your gums, and a whitening agent is applied to your teeth.
  • Activation Process: A light or laser activates the whitening agent for 30 to 60 minutes, possibly in multiple applications.

What are the Costs of Teeth Whitening?

Premium At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Our custom-made at-home teeth bleaching kits cost $397. They include custom-made whitening trays, which we make using impressions of your upper and lower teeth, and a high-quality tooth whitening gel.

In-Chair Whitening

A professional teeth whitening session will cost between $500 and $1,500, depending on the severity of the staining and your desired level of tooth whitening.

Payment Options

We offer accessible payment solutions for both teeth whitening methods. These include direct payments via cash, EFTPOS, Visa, and Mastercard. A range of financing plans are also available for teeth whitening costs, providing short-, medium-, and long-term payment options to suit your individual financial needs.

Are there any Risks of Teeth Whitening?

Some people may experience mild symptoms like sensitivity and gum irritation. Enamel damage and allergic reactions are rare.

  • Tooth Sensitivity: Increased sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet stimuli can occur, especially after using high-concentration whitening agents. This is usually temporary.
  • Gum Irritation: Whitening agents can cause irritation or chemical burns on the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth if they come into direct contact with these areas.
  • Enamel Damage: Overuse or incorrect use of whitening products can lead to enamel erosion and increased tooth sensitivity. This will make the teeth more susceptible to decay and damage.
  • Uneven Whitening: Existing dental work, such as crowns, fillings, and veneers, do not whiten, which can result in uneven colour on your teeth.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some people may have an allergic reaction to the bleaching agents used in teeth whitening products.

How to Choose the Best Teeth Whitening Method for You

how to choose the best teeth whitening method for you

Severity of Discolouration

Assess the level of staining on your teeth. Professional whitening treatments are often more effective for severe discolouration caused by years of consuming staining substances like coffee, tea, and tobacco. For minor stains, a dentist can recommend appropriate at-home treatments or less intensive teeth whitening options.

Desired Level of Whitening

Consider how much brighter you want your smile to be. Dentists can offer a range of options from mild whitening to more dramatic results, and ensure that the treatment matches your expectations.

Budget

While over-the-counter products may be cheaper, they often require prolonged use and frequent purchases, which can add up over time. Professional treatments might have a higher upfront cost but usually offer more reliable results, reducing the need for constant reapplication.

Time Commitment

Think about how quickly you want to see results and how much time you can dedicate to whitening your teeth. In-office treatments provide quick results, typically in a single visit. Custom take-home trays from a dentist, while requiring daily use over a few weeks, are still faster and more effective than most over-the-counter options.

Sensitivity Level

If you have sensitive teeth, you’ll need to choose a method that minimises discomfort. Dentists can provide treatments tailored for sensitive teeth, including desensitising agents and lower-concentration bleaching gels, for a more comfortable experience.

How to Maintain Your Bright Smile After Teeth Whitening

To keep your teeth looking their best after the treatment, try to avoid foods and drinks that can stain them for at least 48 hours. This means steering clear of coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-coloured fruits and veggies. If your teeth feel a bit sensitive, use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a whitening toothpaste, which can help maintain the effects of your teeth whitening. Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles between teeth.

Avoid Staining Foods and Drinks

Coffee, red wine, soda, and dark berries are notorious for staining teeth. If you do consume these, try to brush your teeth soon after or rinse your mouth with water.

Use a Biodegradable Straw

When drinking beverages that stain teeth, using a straw can help minimise direct contact with your teeth.

Stop Smoking

Tobacco can cause significant teeth discolouration. Quitting smoking can help prevent further staining and also improve your oral health and general well-being.

Get Regular Dental Cleanings

Professional cleanings by a dentist or hygienist every 6 months can help remove plaque and surface stains. This will keep your teeth looking whiter.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking water throughout the day helps to wash away food particles and bacteria from the mouth, reducing the risk of stains and cavities.

Teeth Whitening in Australia FAQs

Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic procedure and is generally not covered by dental insurance. However, some health insurance plans may offer partial coverage for specific treatments. It’s best to check with your insurer for details.

Are there Alternatives to Teeth Whitening?

Yes, veneers and dental bonding can both be used in severe cases as alternatives to teeth whitening.

Are Hydrogen Peroxide and Carbamide Peroxide Safe to Use?

Yes, both hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are safe for teeth whitening when used correctly and under professional guidance. These are the two most common bleaching agents used in teeth whitening products.

Hydrogen peroxide is stronger and works faster, but it can also cause more sensitivity. Carbamide peroxide is a weaker bleaching agent that breaks down into hydrogen peroxide over time, making it gentler on the teeth.

Can anyone do Teeth Whitening in Australia?

No, teeth whitening in Australia is regulated. Only dentists and qualified dental professionals can use higher concentrations of whitening agents. Non-dental practitioners can offer services with lower concentrations, while over-the-counter kits are available for home use.

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