How Does Teeth Whitening Work?


Teeth whitening involves bleaching stains on teeth to make them whiter. Teeth whitening can’t make your teeth paper white like in the movies, but it can lighten the existing colour of teeth by many shades.  Teeth whitening involves the use of an agent to remove stains on the enamel of the teeth caused by lifestyle. This is where an oxidation reaction that breaks apart the staining compounds and lifts them from the teeth.

Teeth whitening bleaches the stains on the surface of the teeth it does not whiten enamel, no matter how strong the lamp or the gel, whether done by a technician or a dentist.  Once there are virtually no more stains to whiten this is referred to as ‘Maximum Results’.  The maximum result teeth whitening can achieve is the return the teeth to the colour they were grown.  The average person has 5-14 shades of staining on the surface of their teeth.  That is an average person with an average diet.  This doesn’t refer to someone who uses teeth whitening products regularly nor it is a heavy smoker it is just your average person.  

These in chair systems use peroxide or non peroxide gels, combined with a high intensity light to accelerate the whitening reaction. The in-office teeth whitening treatment can achieve about five to fourteen shades of whitening after only two twenty-minute treatments.

Technician supervised systems have advantages when compared to over-the-counter teeth whitening products. The main advantage of the technician supervised system is that maximum results can be achieved in a one hour sessions rather than repeated application over many days or even weeks.

Teeth whitening isn’t permanent. It can last from several months to up to two years; this varies from person to person depending on their lifestyle. Basically, teeth whitening won’t last as long if you smoke or drink red wine, tea or coffee, which can all stain your teeth.  Teeth whitening won’t work on dentures, crowns, fillings or veneers.



We offer the strongest gels available for use outside of a dental clinic in Australia and the highest grade equipment.  When the process is done correctly most clients achieve maximum results in one treatment with our products which for the average person is 5-14 shades lighter.  What this means is 5-14 shades is the average level of staining a person with an average diet and lifestyle has on the surface of their teeth, who hasn’t had a whitening treatment for at least 12 months and hasn’t been using home products. 

Teeth whitening bleaches the stains on the surface of the teeth it doesn’t whiten enamel no matter who does it, even a dentist.  This is the case no matter how strong the lamp is or how strong the peroxide is.  Teeth with very little staining due to good diet or the use of home whitening treatments may not show as large a result.  The more stained a person’s teeth the greater the result will be.  The whiter the persons teeth were originally the whiter the result that can be achieved.  Each client will have a different start and post treatment shade and will lighten by a different number of shades.



We like to make sure all our clients have the right expectation about teeth whitening so they can pass this on to their clients.  Our clients get the best results possible with teeth whitening; however it is important to remember results are very subjective as each individual is different.  It is an important part of the teeth whitening process to ensure your client has the right expectations prior to having a teeth whitening treatment.  Some of your clients may be using home whitening products or toothpaste which may limit results as part of the process has already been done.  

Teeth Whitening does not give the client paper white teeth no matter the level of peroxide unless they have that colour prior to staining.  Movie star white teeth are as a result of porcelain veneers not teeth whitening.  It is does make it hard when there are ads on TV with models advertising teeth whitening products who don’t have natural teeth.  



Certain discolouration will respond to whitening better than others.  Yellow stains are usually the easiest to lift as they are generally on the surface of the teeth and are caused mainly through foods and drinks.  These stains have a high to moderate chance of lifting.  Brown stains tend to work deeper into the enamel and can even be part of the natural tooth enamel.  Brown is often a product of the aging process. (more about this in the next paragraph) These stains have a moderate to low chance of lifting.  Grey stains are generally inside the tooth which is called intrinsic staining.  Causes are usually a dead nerve or the use of medications.  This discoloration is on the inside of the tooth and teeth whitening will not be effective.



Age plays a big part in the results achieved in teeth whitening.  Younger clients will have stronger, healthier enamel which means the stains will stay on the surface of the teeth and good results are generally achieved.  As we age enamel becomes thinner and microscopic cracks appear trapping the stains.  A good example for this is china; you will notice as your dinnerware ages it becomes stained and has cracks in the surface which scrubbing will no longer remove.  This is the same with tooth enamel.



It is important your client reads and signs the client consent form.  This will work with your insurance to protect you in the unlikely event there is a complication.  

There are some clients who should avoid teeth whitening due to increased risk which is outlined in the consent form.



You may like to give your client the aftercare sheet during the consultation and discuss the white diet to be observed 24-48 hours after the treatment.  The client must avoid staining foods while the teeth are porous or restraining will occur.  It is a good idea to mention this after the treatment to ensure the client follows this important step.  It is also a good idea to avoid alcohol after the treatment too as the client is less likely to remember to adhere to the white diet when alcohol is consumed.

How Does teeth whitening work

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