A quick guide to getting your teeth whitened at a dental clinic

So you have a big event like a wedding coming up and you’re looking in the mirror at your teeth and considering having them whitened but you’re not sure how it is done or what happens on the day. 

Don’t worry teeth whitening in the clinic can lighten teeth by several shades in a single treatment. It is quick and has instant results. Just make sure to allow enough time before your big event to prepare so you can enjoy your white teeth and the delicious food.

Depending on your situation, your clinician may recommend whitening the teeth in the chair or whitening at home with custom bleaching trays or a combination of both.

How to prepare for teeth whitening at the dental clinic

Having your teeth whitened at the dental clinic is gentle and safe for your teeth and can occur in a single visit. Book a regular check-up a week before your teeth whitening appointment to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough to receive a whitening treatment. It is also important to note if your fillings and crowns are in good condition, and to work out if any teeth will not whiten well.

Teeth have pores just like a sponge and colour will absorb into those pores. It’s important to avoid certain foods, drinks, and products that can cause teeth to stain in the days and weeks before teeth whitening. 

What happens on the day I get my teeth whitened?

On the day you come into the clinic to whiten your teeth, eat something at least 30 minutes before the appointment because you can’t eat during the treatment, and then brush and floss your teeth. At the clinic, you’ll also receive a professional dental cleaning to remove plaque and any hardened tartar from your teeth.

After your teeth are cleaned, gauze is placed inside your mouth and cheeks to keep your teeth dry. Retractors are then inserted into your mouth to protect your lips, cheeks and gums from the whitening gel. Mouth props also help relax your jaw while keeping your mouth open for the treatment. The gums are then sealed with a protective barrier so the sensitive tissue doesn’t come in contact with the whitening gel and cause chemical burns. 

Next, the whitening gel is applied to the front surface of your teeth. The active agent in the whitening gel is usually either carbamide peroxide (CP) or hydrogen peroxide (HP). As these ingredients break down, the oxygen penetrates the enamel on your teeth to remove any stains.

A special laser light is placed onto the teeth to activate the gel and lift stains from your teeth. It also provides faster results. The treatment can take about an hour so you can watch television or listen to music while you wait. It is a pain-free procedure with only a slight tingling sensation or a warmth felt from the light. Depending on the original shade of your teeth, we might need to do a few cycles of this during the session.

After the treatment is finished your teeth are rinsed and you will see the results instantly. 

What do I do after my teeth whitening treatment?

For a few days afterwards you may have increased tooth sensitivity which will soon subside. Use sensitive toothpaste to help reduce the discomfort.

For the best results to keep your teeth bright and white:

  • Avoid foods that stain your teeth for 48 hours after treatment.
  • Stick to light-coloured foods and drinks. 
  • After 48 hours you can introduce colourful food and drinks. 
  • Try to reduce foods or tobacco that stain teeth in the long run. 
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Floss at least once a day to help remove plaque build-up.

Teeth whitening is effective however it is not permanent, and you will always need touch-ups or further whitening treatment in the future. 

For the best results, we encourage all patients to follow up with custom at-home bleaching trays to maintain the shade of your teeth.

Most importantly, brush with fluoride toothpaste, floss and make sure to have a regular check-up and clean with your dentist every six months. 

Article by Brenda Loh

Brenda has a heart of gold – and patients like you love her for it. Wanting to look after people stems way back to when she was a child and now it still shines through everything she does. Born in Malaysia, of Chinese heritage, and raised in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Brenda has been a mainstay at the clinic since 2003 and has grown to love Geelong and the people around her.