Is It Better to Get Teeth Whitened at the Dentist?

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A radiant smile is a universal symbol of confidence and self-assurance. In our pursuit of a brighter and more appealing smile, teeth whitening has become an increasingly popular cosmetic dental procedure. However, the decision of where to get teeth whitened can be a critical one. Should you entrust your quest for pearly whites to a dental professional, or is it wiser to embark on a DIY journey with at-home whitening kits? This blog will shed light on this dilemma by examining the advantages and disadvantages of professional teeth whitening at the dentist’s office compared to at-home options. 

Professional Teeth Whitening at the Dentist:

Professional teeth whitening, performed under the skilled supervision of a dentist, is a widely favoured method for achieving a gleaming smile. Here’s what this approach entails: 

  • Advanced Whitening Agents: Dentists have access to stronger whitening agents, typically based on hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, than those available in over-the-counter products. This enables them to tackle more stubborn stains effectively. 
  • Expertise and Precision: Dental professionals possess the expertise to assess your oral health and customise a whitening plan that suits your needs. They can ensure that the procedure is tailored to your specific dental condition and that your gums and surrounding tissues are adequately protected. 
  • Quick and Dramatic Results: One of the primary advantages of professional teeth whitening is the potential for rapid and dramatic results. In just a single in-office session, you can often achieve noticeably whiter teeth, which is a compelling option for individuals seeking immediate improvements. 
  • Safe and Controlled Environment: Under the supervision of a dentist, teeth whitening is performed in a controlled and safe environment. Any adverse reactions or discomfort can be promptly addressed by the dental team. 

In Australia, dental professionals adhere to the guidelines and standards set by the Dental Board of Australia. This ensures that dental procedures, including teeth whitening, are performed with the utmost care, following stringent safety protocols. 

Also Read: How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits:

The allure of convenience and affordability draws many individuals towards at-home teeth whitening kits. These kits come in various forms, from over-the-counter products to those prescribed by dentists: 

  • Milder Whitening Agents: At-home kits generally use milder whitening agents with lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. This can be less aggressive on teeth but may require more time to achieve desired results. 
  • Do-It-Yourself Convenience: At-home whitening provides the convenience of whitening your teeth at your own pace and schedule. This flexibility can be particularly appealing for individuals with busy lifestyles. 
  • Dentist-Prescribed Kits: Some at-home kits are provided by dentists, offering a middle ground between professional and DIY approaches. While still at-home, these kits typically contain higher-strength whitening agents than over-the-counter options. 

To ensure safety and efficacy, dental professionals in Australia may provide patients with dentist-prescribed kits, which are customised to their specific needs. This ensures that even at-home whitening is carried out under professional guidance. 

Effectiveness and Results:

The effectiveness of teeth whitening can significantly influence the decision-making process. Here’s a closer look at how professional and at-home methods compare: 

  • Professional Whitening: Due to the use of stronger whitening agents and professional expertise, in-office whitening tends to yield quicker and more dramatic results. Stubborn stains and discolorations are often effectively addressed in a single session. 
  • At-Home Whitening: At-home methods can also produce noticeable results, but they may require more time and consistency. The milder whitening agents mean that several applications may be needed to achieve the desired level of whiteness. 

It’s important to note that individual responses to teeth whitening can vary based on factors such as the extent of staining, compliance with instructions, and simply person to person. 

Safety and Potential Risks:

Safety is a paramount concern when it comes to teeth whitening. Both professional and at-home methods come with their own set of considerations: 

  • Professional Supervision: Under the care of a dentist, the risk of adverse effects is minimised. Dental professionals are trained to protect your gums and soft tissues while ensuring the whitening process is safe. 
  • Potential Risks: Teeth whitening, regardless of the method, can cause tooth sensitivity and gum irritation in some individuals. This is often temporary and can be managed with the guidance of a dentist. Stronger bleach can result in damage to teeth if used incorrectly, therefore when administered by a dentist, this ensures no long-term damage will occur. 
  • Following Instructions: When using at-home kits, it is essential to follow the instructions meticulously to prevent overuse or misuse of whitening agents, which can lead to discomfort or damage. 

In Australia, the Dental Board of Australia and the Australian Dental Association provide guidelines and standards to ensure the safety and ethical practice of teeth whitening procedures by dental professionals. 

Cost Comparison:

Cost considerations play a significant role in the decision-making process. Here’s how professional and at-home teeth whitening stack up in terms of expenses: 

  • Professional Whitening: In-office teeth whitening typically comes with a higher upfront cost. This cost accounts for the professional expertise, advanced equipment, and stronger whitening agents used during the procedure. The benefit is that a greater result in achieved in just one session. 
  • At-Home Whitening: At-home whitening options, whether over-the-counter or dentist-prescribed, are generally more budget-friendly. They offer a cost-effective alternative for individuals who are willing to trade immediate results for a lower price point. 

The choice between the two methods often boils down to personal budget constraints and the importance placed on achieving rapid results. 

Convenience and Time:

When weighing the decision to whiten your teeth professionally or at home, convenience and time considerations come into play. Here’s a closer examination of these factors: 

  • Professional Whitening: In-office whitening typically requires a single appointment, making it a convenient option for individuals seeking immediate results. The appointment typically takes 1-1.5 hours. This means you need to allocate a chunk of your day for the procedure. 
  • At-Home Whitening: At-home whitening, whether with over-the-counter kits or dentist-prescribed options, offers the convenience of doing it on your schedule. You have the flexibility to whiten your teeth at your own pace, making it a suitable choice for those with busy lifestyles. The downside is that it requires more compliance to repeat sessions during your free time. 

Your choice here may depend on how urgently you desire whiter teeth, your budget, and how much time you can dedicate to the process. 

Maintenance and Longevity:

Achieving a dazzling white smile is a significant accomplishment, but the question remains: How long will the results last, and what maintenance is required? 

  • Professional Whitening: The longevity of results from professional teeth whitening can vary from person to person. Factors such as diet, smoking habits, and oral hygiene practices play a role. However, it’s common for results to last anywhere from several months to a couple of years or more. 
  • At-Home Whitening: The longevity of at-home whitening results also depends on individual habits. Regular touch-ups may be necessary to maintain the desired level of whiteness. Dentists often provide guidance on how to manage this. 

Remember that regardless of the method you choose, maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, can help prolong the effects of teeth whitening. 


The decision of whether to opt for professional teeth whitening at the dentist’s office or to pursue at-home options is a personal one, influenced by a combination of factors. Here’s a brief recap of the key points: 

  • Professional Whitening: This approach offers stronger whitening agents, expertise, quick results, and the assurance of a safe and controlled environment. It is ideal for those seeking immediate and dramatic improvements in their smile. 
  • At-Home Whitening: At-home methods provide flexibility, affordability, and the convenience of whitening at your own pace. While results may take longer, they can still be effective with consistency. 

Ultimately, the choice between the two methods comes down to your priorities, budget, and how much value you place on the factors of time, convenience, and rapid results. 

If you’re considering teeth whitening and reside in Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Smile Design Dental is a trusted dental practice with the expertise and options to help you achieve the brighter, more confident smile you desire. Whether you opt for professional in-office whitening or dentist-prescribed at-home kits, the team at Smile Design Dental can guide you on your journey to a dazzling smile. 

SmileStyler Day – Free digital setup to straightening your teeth with clear aligners

By | Cosmetic, Uncategorized | No Comments
Tuesday the 12th of April 2022, we are hosting a SmileStyler day
So what does this mean for you?
Exclusive offers for our patients on SmileStyler Day
-This includes a FREE SmileStyler clear aligner consultation and planning including scan and x-ray (valued at $500)
-With any new approved case you will receive a FREE teeth whitening kit along with you aligners.
-Please note this offer is for Tuesday the 12th of April only.
So take the first step towards the smile you’ve always wanted. There is no need for the inconvenience of unsightly braces. SmileStyler allows you to eat the foods you love, brush and floss your teeth and still end up with the amazing smile you’ve always wanted.
To book your consultation to find out whether SmileStyler Clear Aligner Therapy is right for you contact our friendly team on 07 3392 0105 or alternatively book online here.

Straightening with clear aligners

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Clear aligners versus bonded braces

Both clear aligners and bonded braces have their pros and cons and what suits you best will need to be assessed by an oral health professional. With clear aligners the major advantage is that they are nearly invisible, cleaning is far easier, movements are usually more gradual and may be less painful, you get to view your digital setup before and during treatment, and your records are saved digitally and can be accessed many years after you complete your treatment, even by other oral health professionals. Bonded braces, on the other hand, are usually cheaper, require less compliance (cannot be removed), and can achieve more difficult movements and correct larger bite discrepancies. Both should be able to achieve similar outcomes depending on the original orthodontic challenges.

Am I a good candidate for clear aligners?

To be suitable for orthodontic treatment patients need to have a well managed dental health, with any decay, faulty restorations, or gum disease addressed prior to starting treatment as these can be exacerbated if not corrected beforehand. Clear aligners are taken in and out of the mouth but need to be worn for a minimum of 22 hours a day – this means compliance is essential. If a patient does not follow this then they will not likely achieve the projected movements.

Mild to moderate crowding and bite problems can usually achieve good results. More complicated cases can be addressed with clear aligners though they may pose more challenges – teeth may lag and other gum problems could arise. Better quality aligner providers are still able to correct moderate to complicated cases, though not all, so your case will need to be closely assessed. Clear aligners are generally very good at straightening the front but not as successful when attempting large movements with back teeth, so your goals here will help determine whether to go ahead.

What’s the difference with aligner brands?

Lately, a lot.

There is a big range of what you can pay for clear aligners and this is a circumstance where you really get what you pay for. Leading aligner partners, like SmileStyler involve many more sets of eyes reviewing these cases that are dentally trained. Going through a dentist or orthodontist means you’ll be able to discuss your concerns, your oral health professional will scrutinise your smile closely and likely identify many issues you weren’t even aware of. They’ll also be watching for signs where straightening is causing unintended changes. Better providers will allow more revisions during treatment and enable your health professional more control in the setups. The more oral health professional involvement, the better your outcome will be.

More recently there are systems where you take impressions at home or in a studio that gets sent to a lab. You’ll view the simulation and will be told that a oral health professional signs off on it, but you’ll never meet them or be able to talk with them. These providers are not regulated by AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and therefore are exempt from a lot of health protection laws. This means if there are adverse outcomes as a result of your treatment they are not usually held accountable. In addition, the orthodontist or dentist they employ to sign off on these treatments are often not Australian or not trained to our standards, and usually only look at these plans very briefly, without any further monitoring. This essentially leaves your treatment in untrained hands. The treatment delivered is limited in what can be achieved as they are not able to employ techniques dentists and orthodontics do to allow additional spacing and predictability, and gum disease and recession is much more likely to occur here. Some of these changes may be irreversible.

How do I get started at Smile Design Dental?

To start your aligner journey with us we require a comprehensive examination and x-rays, which we recommend to have with your clean. Once your are deemed dentally fit and appear to be a good candidate for aligners, we will start with a new case setup. Photos and impressions will be taken and we will discuss what your treatment goals are. One to two weeks later you will receive a digital simulation of how your teeth will look at each aligner stage right until the end. You’ll be able to view different perspectives and compare to your original starting point. If you have any concerns we can alter the setup as you wish.

Our preferred aligner partner is SmileStyler, an all Australian aligner provider that gives us the advantage of talking with your simulation technicians directly. The waiting time is far reduced to some overseas providers and you have the confidence everything is managed to Australian standards. SmileStyler are different in that scans are made at each 6 aligner interval to check how closely your teeth are tracking. If things are a bit off we simply adjust for it in the next set of 6 aligners to keep you as on track as possible. This gives us a lot more room to alter things as needed and a much higher quality result. At the end if you’re not 100% satisfied, we simply take more impressions and issue a few more aligners to make sure we get you teeth to where you want them to be. With SmileStyler, you can expect a much better result than with other aligner providers.

Our preferred partner, SmileStyler, is an all Australian aligner provider, that works with our dentists in close conference to achieve desired treatment results. With regular scans every 6 aligners together we ensure we are achieving not just a better result, but your ideal result.
Clear aligners almost invisible to the untrained eye.
V5-Pro is an additional device that can be utilised to halve treatment time. This is bitten down on gently for 5 minutes daily, stimulating bone turnover allowing the movements to be taken up sooner. 2 weekly wear gets halved to just 1 week.
Hook and chewies are provided to allow easier removal and full seating of aligners when fitted.

These aligners are normally worn for 2 weeks at a time, 22 hours of the day, however using the V5Pro this can be sped up to 1 week for each aligner. The V5Pro is a device that you bite down on gently for five minutes a day that vibrates and stimulates the supporting bone. This allows the movements to be taken up faster. The number of aligners you wear will be determined by how much movement is required, so this will vary from person to person and you will have a better understanding after your initial digital setup. Mild cases are generally around 12 aligners, moderate to advanced cases will be closer to 30+.

Once completed you will need to wear retainers at night time to prevent relapse. These are very similar to the clear aligners, just a little sturdier. All the forces that made your teeth crooked in the first place are all still there, that means that without support those teeth will want to return to their original positions. That’s why a retainer is required to be worn, just at night, to fight those forces and keep those teeth in their beautiful straight position.

Then you can enjoy your smile like never before.

How does teeth whitening work?

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Teeth whitening can be achieved by removing extrinsic stains (on the outer surfaces) or intrinsic stains (inside the tooth structure).

Extrinsic stains

These are caused by things like tea/coffee, spices, red wine, smoking/tobacco products, or anything you consume with a deeper pigment. They tend to be more brown in pigment and can usually be removed easily when you attend your regular dental clean.

Intrinsic stains

These are deeper stains that give your teeth a more yellow/grey appearance. To effectively remove these pigments hydrogen peroxide is required to penetrate deeper into the structure of the teeth. The hydrogen peroxide targets organic molecules within the dentine which are the ones susceptible to discolouration. It breaks these down and the darker pigments within them. This process can cause a little bit of sensitivity as it makes the teeth a little more porous, but this soon settles down. This leaves the clearer, light-scattering molecules, giving the teeth a much whiter and lustrous appearance. The amount of lift you get will depend on the degree of discolouration of the organic molecules to begin with, and their quantity. Therefore, in order to achieve greater lifts you should expect some sensitivity, which is temporary.

The outer layer of the tooth, the enamel, is high in inorganic structure and gives our teeth the pristine white appearance naturally.
The middle layer, the dentine, is a mix of organic and inorganic structure. The organic structure is originally more yellow but is also more susceptible to staining over time.
The pulp, or “nerve” of the tooth, is the living part. This area can be agitated by bleach penetrating through the outer layers. Using the right amount of bleach ensures that these pulps stay safe and protected.

There are two methods we use in dentistry to achieve the deeper teeth whitening. One is with take home bleach, and the other is with in-office bleach. You can expect similar results with each though the latter can be done in one sitting.

What about whitening toothpastes?

Teeth whitening using whitening toothpastes are usually a bad option. These products generally work by abrading and removing the outer layer of your teeth that have discoloured. This reveals the the whiter, fresh enamel underneath. However the enamel is now much thinner. Enamel is the strongest part of your teeth and unfortunately, once it is worn away does not reform. When more is removed the yellow dentine will start to show through. Your teeth will then look darker and the whiter enamel is lost forever. These products generally contain a small amount of bleach though the quantity is so minimal that its effect is deemed negligible.

What about the shopping booth stalls?

These places generally use the strongest bleach available without a dental provider number which is usually the strength of home bleach. They use an ultra-violet light to help activate the bleach and make it work faster. In stronger concentrations hydrogen peroxide can be quite traumatic to soft tissues. Chemical burns on the gums and lips can result if not carefully administered. It is for this reason that only dentists are allowed to deliver stronger concentrations. The shopping booth bleach will give some small lift here but because the bleach is so weak, only a very minimal change can be hoped for. Multiple applications of weaker bleach, or a single application of much stronger bleach, provides the best results. We can see this with our home and in-office bleaching procedures.

Can bleach damage my teeth and gums?

Short answer, yes, but that is when poorly administered. Bleach works by breaking down organic molecules, which is precisely what your gums are made of. Lower concentrations are safe to contact the gums though care should be used to minimise this using special trays. Higher concentrations can cause chemical burns which can vary in severity. Minor burns can feel like an ulcer and can be soothed with vitamin E gel, more severe burns can cause bleeding and the gums to peel away.

In-office teeth whitening

During in-office teeth whitening we use higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide to achieve a greater lift. Here a special barrier is placed over the gums to keep them protected and safe. A barrier may also be placed on more porous sensitive areas of exposed dentine. The occasional application of bleach is perfectly safe to use on teeth, however stronger concentrations should be used less frequently to allow the teeth to refill and recover. Stronger applications done in quick succession could irritate the pulp, or “nerves” or teeth. Too much irritation could cause it to die off due to the trauma. That’s why we recommend 3-6 month breaks between whitening sessions if you desire to go another round. All this is completely safe when administered by a dentist trained in whitening, so follow their advice to attain a brighter and safer smile.

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