Teeth whitening can remove stains and lead to a brighter, more attractive smile. Use this guide to find out more about teeth whitening, including why you'll want to speak with a dentist before taking the plunge with a procedure.
What exactly is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a type of cosmetic dental procedure that lightens the colour of your teeth. There are many ways to help whiten your teeth, from professional cosmetic services to a host of different whiteners available to buy.
Many at-home products such as teeth whitening toothpastes, teeth-whitening kits and teeth whitening pens also feature bleach as their active ingredient.
Bleaching is also offered by dentists and beauty specialists. Professional services and kits involve applying a peroxide-based solution to the teeth which is either activated using an LED or UV light or left to sit for a few hours, held in place with a whitening tray.
Teeth whitening pens are applied directly to the teeth with no waiting time required. They are used more for everyday touch-ups rather than more long-term whitening.
Whitening toothpastes can also include bleaching agents as ingredients.
If you have sensitive teeth or prefer to avoid bleaching, which may cause tooth sensitivity, there are abrasive options to remove surface stains which can be done at home.For example, charcoal whitening products are available as powders and pastes which you can use as part of your daily dental routine. They're a much more affordable option to professional whitening however the Australian Dentist Association warns that they can strip your tooth enamel.
While the abrasive agent won't lighten your actual tooth colour, it can remove stains to make your smile appear that much brighter.
Compare teeth whitening companies online
Types of teeth whitening available
Professional teeth whitening procedures
These dental cosmetic treatments are delivered 'in-chair' at practices. Typically, a bleaching solution is applied to the teeth and this is activated by laser, light or heat. While some laser-based procedures can be completed in one session, others will require multiple visits to your dentist.
Teeth whitening toothpaste, strips or kits
These use-at-home whitening products – many of which contain peroxide – include whitening toothpaste, mouthwash, gels and strips. They can be bought online or over-the-counter from the supermarket or chemist. You'll need to carefully administer these treatments yourself.
We'd encourage you to speak with your dentist before using any teeth whitening products. You may have a pre-existing problem with your teeth that makes you unsuited to a teeth whitening course.
Consider the following factors when shopping online for teeth whitening products:
- Safety considerations. Under Australian law, there's a limit to how strong certain teeth whitening products can be when sold online or over-the-counter; or performed by non-dentists. For example, teeth whitening pens can't contain more than 6% hydrogen peroxide. Teeth whitening procedures are usually not recommended if you're pregnant or breastfeeding or have weak or sensitive teeth or gum problems. Keep in mind there are common side effects of teeth whitening too, such as sensitivity and gum irritation.
- Cost. Be clear on exactly what's included in the cost you see advertised. For example, do you have to buy a replacement whitening pen separately once your gel runs out? Also, if you're ordering from overseas then you may be forced to pay extra for express delivery if a supplier says it can't use a standard mail carrier due to legal transportation regulations.
- Reviews. What do past users have to say? One negative review may not mean a lot, but regular complaints could mean you may want to stay clear. Generally, you'll want to be careful with reviews for these products – some paid-for product placements may be presented as unbiased reviews.
- Sign up offers. Teeth whitening is a competitive market and there are often flash sales and other discounts to be found. At the time of writing, Advance Whitening was offering a free Bonus Enamel Booster Pen (worth $39.95) with every order.
The effectiveness of teeth whitening products and services will vary based on personal circumstances and there's no guarantee that one product will work for you. Again, it's important to check in with your dentist before settling on any type of teeth whitening.
Frequently asked questions
Can I claim any medicare benefits for teeth whitening?
No, Medicare doesn't typically cover teeth whitening, but your health insurance may provide additional cover depending on your plan. Read our guide for more on this topic.
Are there ways I can make my teeth whiter naturally?
There may be natural remedies to consider, such as coconut oil. Also, some enzymes that occur in fruits such as pineapple and papayas may improve the whiteness of teeth.
How can I keep my teeth looking white?
Try to limit food or drinks which cause stains. These may include tomato-based sauces, coffee and red wine. Also, floss and brush your teeth regularly and make sure you visit your dental practice every six months.
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How much does teeth whitening cost?
Whiten teeth from as little as $5 at home or from $300 professionally.
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Whiten and brighten your teeth naturally with these charcoal teeth whitening products. Here's how they work and where to get yours.
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