A Dentist Explains Different Teeth Whitening Methods

My patients ask me LOTS of questions about teeth whitening methods and teeth whitening tips. In fact, probably more than anything else in dentistry! Two questions in particular come up more than any others.

But first, let's take a look at which whitening techniques are on offer.

The Techniques

There are a lot of misunderstandings about teeth whitening, which is not surprising as there are a whole swarm of advertisements out there promoting different teeth whitening methods, each claiming to be the best.

Even a lot of dentists are confused, so it's no wonder that patients are, too!

Teeth whitening can be done in one of two locations - either in the dental office, or at home.

The dental office version is frequently promoted as being the fast option - a one-hour treatment, usually boosted by a light of some sort, or even a laser.

Let's get one thing straight!

There is no scientific evidence that a light or a laser speeds up the whitening process at all, despite all the advertising claims.

So, is one-hour teeth whitening a waste of time and money?

Not entirely. While some people do not see much change in the color of their teeth after the one-hour session, many patients WILL see an appreciable improvement.

Is one-hour teeth whitening a waste of time and money?

The other option, the professional take-home method (from the dentist) lets you carry out the treatment yourself at home, at your own pace, at a time that's convenient for you. It takes longer, but lets you monitor the change in your tooth color day-by-day, giving you the maximum control.

Any dentist-supplied home system will allow your teeth to go whiter than with the one-hour office method, (if you want - you are in complete control!), and they will stay whiter for much longer.

A final possibility is regular use of a tooth whitening toothpaste, but this is a slow, gradual process, and you have to keep using the product to maintain the whiteness. You can read more about this at Best Whitening Toothpaste.

My Teeth Whitening Tips

How can you tell if you might get a good result with the one-hour method on its own?

TEETH WHITENING TIP 1: Ask your dentist to assess your current tooth color, and show you the color guide against your own teeth in a mirror. The tooth colors "A" and "B" tend to whiten up the easiest. BUT if your tooth color is "C" or "D" then the whitening effect in a one-hour session is likely to be small. As always, there are exceptions to these rules, but by and large, the rules hold up.

TEETH WHITENING TIP 2: Your age is also very important. The younger you are, the faster your teeth will whiten. If you are under 20, you can expect your teeth to react VERY well. On the other hand, if you are over 40, things will happen more slowly. Your teeth WILL whiten up, it'll just take a little longer!

What about the take-home option on its own?

To be perfectly honest, I think this is the best teeth whitening method for most people, providing it is done correctly. Most home systems are for overnight application, but some teeth whitening products are designed for day-time application.

One of them even allows you to do two applications per day if you want, which really speeds up the process!

Click here for my recommendations on the best teeth whitening products.

A dentist's teeth whitening tips

With take-home teeth whitening procedures, it is critical to pay attention to all the small details if you want to get your money's worth! Once your dentist and his lab have done their job, the rest is up to you.

TEETH WHITENING TIP 3: Follow the teeth whitening instructions to the letter! Click here for home teeth whitening tips.

The Questions

Now the two most frequently-asked questions:

1. Is teeth whitening safe?

YES. Providing it is supervised by a qualified and registered dentist. This means that the person should have a degree in dentistry, and should be registered as a dentist in the state or country where they work.

I would advise against getting teeth whitening done at a beauty parlor or hairdresser. In particular, you want to watch out for any mention of chlorine dioxide.


It is acidic, and can damage your teeth permanently. The best methods use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

2. Is tooth whitening permanent?

YES, pretty much. Although there are differences between teeth whitening methods done in the dentist's chair, and teeth whitening methods that you take home.

Most dentists agree that the take-home method produces a much longer-lasting result. Your teeth will always be whiter than before the treatment, however they may tone down a little over time, due to the effects of drinking coffee, tea, soda, wine, and smoking.

Usually, a quick top-up session at home will take you back - BANG! - to white.

There can be some temporary side-effects, which you can read about at teeth whitening side effects.

However, the one-hour "chairside" tooth whitening on its own tends to fade after a few weeks. Also, the biggest problem with chairside one-hour whitening is sensitivity.

Click here to go to Teeth Whitening Sensitivity.

Click here for a closer look at Teeth Whitening Facts, - a detailed description of the science!

To sum up, teeth whitening supervised by a dentist is safe, effective, and long-lasting. Click here to go to Best Teeth Whitening Products.

And if you're not in a hurry and prefer natural products, have a look at Natural Teeth Whitening.

I hope this description of the best teeth whitening methods has helped to clear up some of the questions. My 3 teeth whitening tips will be helpful for getting the best out of any teeth whitening system!