What is tooth whitening?

Tooth whitening uses bleaching chemicals (either a carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) to “whiten” the teeth. Legally only dentists can prescribe the higher concentrations of peroxide. These chemicals microscopically penetrate the enamel to whiten even deep staining and discolouration.

Most readily available toothpastes and whitening products use abrasive particles or an extremely low concentration of peroxide (or similar), to remove staining and discolouration from the surface of teeth. Other over-the-counter kits or “home remedies” (like bicarb soda mixed with lemon juice) often act by removing enamel, effectively stripping away layers of healthy tooth, causing irreversible damage to the teeth.

                                                                                     © Dr Vickers

Types of professional whitening?

Your dentist will assess whether you are suitable for whitening. The two main types include;

In-chair professional whitening: Bleach is applied to each tooth by your dentist. The whitening at Northbridge Dentists does not require an annoying light to set the whitening gel! The lips and gums must first be isolated. The gel is applied in 15minute cycles up to 4x.

Isolation procedure involved to protect the gums during the in-chair whitening process

Bleaching/at-home trays: This involves applying a small amount of gel into some specially constructed trays. These are worn as instructed, usually for one hour per day for between 2-4 weeks.

Northbridge Dentists also offer Opalescence Go. This take-home whitening kit is ready to use right out of the packet! No impressions and no waiting time until you're ready to start using!


 Toothpastes, mouth rinses and oral strips can be sufficient for some people to achieve their desired shade.

  • Clean and polish by the dentist to remove staining.
  • For other people that get a minimal response to whitening, crowns, veneers or fillings may be required instead. 



How long does whitening last?

Most people will notice their teeth are still whiter a year later. Over time there will be some relapse. However those who smoke, drink excess tea/coffee or have poor oral hygiene can expect is to fade more quickly. It is not recommended to whiten your teeth more than once a year. Very frequent whitening can risk damaging your teeth.


How well does whitening work?

Most patients will notice whiter teeth, however some patients expect whiter results. Despite what we may see on television, healthy teeth are naturally off-white or slightly yellow, and in reality a bright “toilet seat” white is unnatural. In some people the results can be unpredictable and, although most people notice a difference, it may not be as much as they thought. Remember the aim is to lighten a few shades not glow-in-the-dark! Please discuss your expectations with your dentist before starting.


What about bicarb soda?

This is now being used as an active ingredient in some toothpastes. The main method of action is from the abrasive particles that can remove some of the surface stains to give a whiter appearance. Over-use can wear away the enamel.  However it is still unable to penetrate deeper into the enamel like whitening products.


How much does whitening cost?

Depending on your type of procedure, the number of applications and visits, the costs will vary. Please discuss this with your dentist prior to treatment.