Dr Elice Chen
Written by Dr Elice Chen, Nov 13, 2023
Fact Checked

There is so much information and advertising about ways to whiten your teeth it can be hard to know what is best.

Here are 4 reasons why you should see a dentist to help guide your decision.

1. Diagnose the cause of the discolouration, and any other tooth, gum or mouth problems.

There are many reasons teeth can become discoloured and there are different ways to treat these causes. It is important that the true reason for the discolouration is addressed, otherwise the whitening treatment may not be effective. 

The discolouration may only be on the outside surface of the teeth. This staining may be from foods, bacteria (plaque or calculus), smoking, tea etc.

Discolouration can also be caused by an issue inside the tooth or teeth. Discolouration inside the tooth can occur due to tooth decay, a problem with the dental pulp, old fillings, or conditions affecting the teeth during development. Tooth whitening alone won’t improve these conditions.

2. Check if whitening is suitable for you

Tooth whitening is not without risks and there are some potential side effects to be aware of. 

Tooth sensitivity is common. It is usually temporary and minor for most people, but if you have untreated tooth decay, it can be more severe. Your dentist can explain how you might be affected and how to manage any sensitivity that may occur. 

If your tooth discolouration is stubborn or you would like to try and lighten the colour further, you may need whitening more than once, with careful monitoring. If you want to also change the shape or position of your teeth, you may need to consider extra treatments such as veneers, crowns or orthodontic (braces) treatment.

Fillings and crowns do not change colour with tooth whitening treatment. Whitening teeth where some have been previously treated with crowns or fillings may causes the colour of the teeth to not match. These treatments may need to be redone to match the new teeth colour. It is important to understand which teeth might be affected before starting whitening treatment and if additional treatment that may be required for you.

3. Full range of options, including properly fitted custom home whitening trays

Only your dentist is trained to give you the full range of options when it comes to tooth whitening. Options can include:

  • Professional teeth cleaning and suggesting products to use at home.
  • Take-home whitening treatment where custom dental trays with whitening gel are used at home. It may be tempting to buy a DIY kit from the chemist or online, but if the tray does not fit well, the whitening gel may flow unevenly and contact the gums, causing discomfort. Custom trays are often thinner and more comfortable to wear. 
  • Tooth whitening in the dental clinic using higher strength tooth whitening products.
4. Start with a clean slate, and a plan

Your health is most important, so get a full check-up and manage any dental and mouth problems first. Ignoring these problems will lead to pain and more complex, expensive treatment later on.
Whitening works better on a clean tooth surface, so make sure you have a thorough professional clean beforehand. Sometimes this is enough for a great result! 

So why should you see a dentist for tooth whitening? Because your dentist is your guide to navigating this treatment safely and effectively – feel free to ask them lots of questions!

essica Simpson
About the Author
Dr Elice Chen

Brighter Smiles Family Dental Care
102 Ringwood St, Ringwood 3134
Dr Elice loves to help patients look after their teeth so they can be as healthy as possible. She provides gentle, general dental services for all ages.

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