DIY TEETH WHITENING v’s at the dentist

Have you ever considered undergoing some teeth whitening to brighten your smile?

If so, then you know there are plenty of options available to you.

Teeth whitening may very well be one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments, in particular around the summer holidays or a special occasion.

Invariably around those times, we get a lot of questions about teeth whitening, but these are two we tend to hear most often.

“What is the most effective way to whiten my teeth?”

“Do those whitening strips/toothpastes sold at the supermarket really work?”


You may have noticed that there are plenty of different methods for whitening your teeth, from professional treatments like ZOOM! that are only performed by your dentist, to strips, gels & trays you can do yourself.

Then, of course, there are all of the latest and greatest teeth whitening fads that are often featured online, on TV talk shows and in magazines.

Three of the most popular teeth whitening fads over the past few years are oil pulling, using activated charcoal products and the use of turmeric.

It’s no surprise that DIY teeth whitening is all the rave these days, but a healthy smile isn’t always the whitest smile.

A study revealed that when people were asked what they’d most like to improve about their smile, the most common response was whiter teeth.

“6 out 10 people believe a whiter, brighter smile would boost their self-confidence especially in the 18 to 35 year age bracket.”

But are these DIY teeth whitening products effective? Furthermore, are they even safe?

Ultimately, the answer is that no over-the-counter or DIY teeth whitening method will be more effective or safer than getting your teeth professionally whitened at your dentist’s office.

Many people have been attracted by the false promises of advertising and have given many ‘beauty’ products a go. After all, the possibility of having beautiful white teeth in five days for under fifty dollars is very, very tempting, particularly when you’ve got a special occasion coming up.

But there are plenty of reasons why your venture into DIY teeth whitening may not deliver the results you were hoping for, and there are even more reasons why you should check with your dentist before opting for DIY teeth whitening.

If you’ve been persuaded to give over-the-counter whitening products a go, you may not have been delighted with the results. The reason? Over-the-counter teeth whitening products may not actually be doing what they say they are doing.

What are some of the reasons it may not work?

Professional whitening (bleaching) is usually done in a controlled environment on teeth that have recently been cleaned of plaque and tartar. A pre-whitening professional clean removes most of the external (extrinsic) stains, and the whitening agent (bleach) bleaches the remaining extrinsic stains as well as any discolouration laying deep within the tooth enamel (intrinsic stains). This bleaching process falls under the classification of “Irreversible Dental Procedures”, so it’s not to be undertaken without careful consideration of the potential risks and downsides.

Can Over-the-counter options can cause damage? And perhaps not work at all?

Any product sold over the counter by Australian retailers is only allowed to contain a very low concentration of bleaching agents, significantly lower than the concentrations used in dental offices. This means that any gels or strips that you purchase from Australian stores simply don’t have the same whitening power as professionally-applied products.

Many over-the-counter teeth whiteners work to some extent because of their abrasive qualities, they claim the ability to whiten teeth but don’t actually contain a form of bleach at all, so they can’t physically whiten the tooth enamel. Their “whitening” claim is based on the presence of abrasive particles within the paste. These particles are able to polish away (some of) the extrinsic stains, but can cause major damage to gums and tooth enamel, which can lead to yellowing of the teeth down the track,” which in turn tempts you to buy more over-the-counter products to gain that white, bright smile again and again and so the ugly cycle begins.

All of these reasons ultimately come down to one primary reason, your dentist and only your dentist can best determine which teeth whitening option is best for you.

There are even plenty of reasons why teeth whitening won’t even work eg. cavities, crowns/veneers or implants, so that’s why you should check with your dentist before potentially wasting your time & money on DIY teeth whitening.


Sure, it sounds simple, easy and less expensive to grab some common or readily available household items and get to the DIY teeth whitening, but that’s just not the case.

And just because something is pitched as “natural teeth whitening,” doesn’t mean it’s healthy – or effective.

In fact, some products or methods can do more harm than good.

Here are three of the most popular DIY teeth whitening methods we hope to dissuade you from trying:

Activated Charcoal Products – there is no evidence that shows dental products containing activated charcoal are safe or effective. Activated charcoal products that are too abrasive can actually wear away your tooth enamel.

Lemon Juice & Baking Soda – DIY teeth whitening with baking soda and lemon juice is not good for your teeth. The abrasive nature of baking soda will actually abrade your teeth, lemon juice is very acidic and will erode your teeth. Together they can have a very destructive effect on your tooth enamel.

Coconut Oil & Turmeric powder – As with the two previous DIY teeth whitening methods, there is no reliable scientific evidence illustrating the effectiveness of whitening your teeth with coconut oil & turmeric.

The Best Teeth Whitening Methods

Hands down the absolute best way to whiten your teeth is at your dentist.

Professional teeth whitening by your dentist is the most effective, and the safest way to whiten your smile, save the DIY stuff for backyard projects, not your dental & overall health.

The best way to maintain a sparkling white smile is to prevent yellowing or stained teeth in the first place.

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes
  • Use a whitening toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval
  • Cleaning between your teeth once a day ie; flossing
  • Limiting foods that stain your teeth, like coffee, tea and red wine
  • Not smoking or using tobacco
  • Regular visits to your dentist for checkups and cleanings

If you are interested in trying a particular teeth whitening product or service, talk to your dentist before you begin. Only then can you be 100% sure that you’re making the most effective & healthiest choice.

There are at-home bleaching options that have earned the Australian Dental Association Seal of Approval, which means they’ve been tested to be safe and effective for your teeth. To find out which products are safe for at home use please call our dental office and speak to our friendly staff.

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