Dental whitening FAQs answered

Do you want to have your teeth whitened, but have some questions about the process before booking your appointment?

Here, some key questions asked by patients looking to undergo teeth whitening MacLeod are answered, so read on to learn more. 

A dentist examining a patient's teeth

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Are there different types of dental whitening?

Yes, there are and when it comes to dental whitening, your dentist will choose the option that is best suited to the type of staining that you have.

If you have stains caused by lifestyle influences such as smoking or drinking coffee, then they will opt for a bleach-based whitening to remove the surface staining. If your staining is caused by early exposure to fluoride or medication, then they will likely choose abrasion-based removal and whitening methods. 

How long does whitening take?

Typically, professional whitening takes place over 2 weeks.

Your first appointment with your dentist will involve them applying the gel to your teeth and using a UV light to activate it and remove surface stains. Depending on the system being used to whiten the teeth, you may be given trays to use at home to whiten in your own time until the next appointment in 14 days.

With abrasion-based whitening, there is similar scheduling, but it accounts for potential sensitivity caused by this method and may also involve the application of fluoride sealants to strengthen against the tooth sensitivity. 

Will it heighten sensitivity?

Many patients have concerns that if they have their teeth whitened using bleaches or abrasion in a dental surgery that this will cause their teeth to hurt or become more sensitive. But many dental surgeries that offer dental whitening use bleaches and gels that have built-in anti-sensitivity agents. When they are applied to your teeth they will not cause the level of dehydration that is associated with worsening sensitivity.

If you have extremely sensitive teeth and do not want to undergo bleach-based whitening, you should talk to your dentist about other alternatives like veneers or composite bonding.

How can I prolong the effects?

A dentist examining a patient's teeth

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Dentists can provide you with what are known as top-up trays and solutions to use at home after you have had your teeth whitened. These are custom-fitted mouthguards that you can wear overnight or for 2 hours per day which you fill with a weakened version of the whitening gel to prolong the effects.

However, to keep your teeth looking their whitest, you should refrain from activities such as smoking, drinking red wine, or black coffee and should of course aim to keep your teeth in good condition by brushing them twice a day.

Will over-the-counter kits be as effective?

Walk into any pharmacy and you will see the range of over-the-counter whitening kits that are available. While they do promise extremely striking results for a fraction of the cost of professional whitening, it is statistically unlikely that this can be achieved. This is because of the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in these toothpastes and mouthwashes which is significantly lower than you would get at a professional dental whitening. So if you are looking to brighten your teeth by multiple shades your best bet is to approach a professional dental team.


Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.