Can $100 teeth whitening give you a celebrity smile?

I tried getting my teeth professionally whitened so you don't have to.
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Ever wanted a perfect, bright white smile but not quite desperate enough to commit to MAFS-style veneers? Getting your teeth professionally whitened (AKA whitened ‘in chair’) seems like the obvious choice, but does it work and what’s the pocess actually like?

WATCH: MAFS’ Jessika Power before and after Veneers

We’ve all had those moments where we’ve wished for a brighter smile, one to match the red-carpet grins our favourite celebrities sport, but actually dropping hard-earned cash on getting your teeth profesionally whitened can be a big decision.

After all, what’s to say the treatment will actually work or that your teeth will actually end up Hollywood bright, and not just a slightly paler shade of dull?

With so many at-home whitening treatments on the market, it seems like the more affordable option to just buy a whitening pen and toothpaste and be done with it.

But, as one WHO writer found out, those DIY teeth whitening kits have nothing on the real thing.

My teeth weren’t horrifically yellow before I had them whitened, but they were definitely dull and stained. (Credit: Supplied)

Does professional teeth whitening work?

From personal experience, I can say it absolutely does. I walked in to the Countouring Bodies clinic in Sydney with dull, slightly yellow teeth stained by one too many cups of coffee and wanted a smile more like Zoey Deutch, who has a perfect set of pearly whites. I walked out with teeth 14 shades brighter after just one session.

The treatment itself was pretty non-invasive; all I had to do was sit back and chill out with some gel in my mouth for an hour.

First beauty therapist Mary explained the treatment to me, including how long it would take and how I’d need to look after my teeth in the hours after they were whitened. Then she covered my lips in vaseline and popped a retractor in my mouth to hold my lips back during the treatment. She applied some protective salve to my gums, then covered my front teeth with a bleaching gel and popped a UV light on them to activate the bleach.

It’s certainly not the most glamorous treatment, but it’s more effective than at-home options. (Credit: Supplied)

Then I just had to sit back and relax for an hour, with Mary removing and reapplying the bleaching agent every 20 minutes. Each time she checked the colour of my teeth and how they were reacting to the treatment, just to make sure everything was going smoothly.

After the hour was up and the bleach had been applied and removed three times, I rinsed out my mouth and finally caught sight of my pearly whites – and god, were they white. I also noticed there were a bunch of little white spots and streaks on my teeth, but Mary assured me they were nothing to worry about – it was just decalcification, and it’s very common.

The results looked scary at first, but within a few hours my teeth were prefectly even and pearly white. (Credit: Supplied)

“The decalcified enamel whitens quicker than the rest of the tooth, so those spots will be more pronounced immediately post treatment and sometimes up to a day or two after,” she explained. “But after that the whole tooth itself becomes lighter and those spots blend with the rest of the tooth.”

A few days later I saw that for myself when my teeth were looking perfectly even and white – and totally worth the $100 that I paid for the treatment, which was a sale price. You can also shop around to find the best price and treatment for you at clinics like PureSmile.

One week later, my teeth are bright white and shiny. (Credit: Supplied)

How does professional teeth whitening work?

Teeth whitening essentially involves bleaching your teeth using hydrogen peroxide in different concentrations; dentists can use mugh higher concentrations than clinics like the one I went to, but also tend to charge much more. Some celebrities have had their teeth whitened by dentists, but many thank beauty clinics for their pearly whites.

In Australia, dentists are the only practitioners allowed to use products that release more than 6 per cent hydrogen peroxide, so if you have extreme staining you may get more effective results from a dentist. 

My treatment involved using the Hollywood Whitening machine and gel, which comes from the internationally renowned brand with offices in Europe, Asia and North America, but different clinics will use different products and equipment.

There are a whole range of different treatments available from different clinics and dental practitioners, so make sure to research what will work best for you. It’s always good to chat with your dentist before undergoing any dental treatment like teeth whitening, especially if you have sensitive teeth or specific dental concerns.

Getting a celebrity smile can take some time and money, but teeth whitening is one of the easiest steps to take. (Credit: Getty)

Is it more effective than teeth whitening at home?

Getting your teeth whitened at a clinic or by a dentist will always be more effective than at-home products, and probably safer too.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products have lower levels of hydrogen peroxide, meaning the effects of the treatments won’t be as noticeable or significant from a single treatment. Applying these products at home also presents risks of you using them incorrectly, which can cause damage to your teeth and gums.

Research has also shown that at-home whitening products are more likely to damage the enamel on your teeth over time, which can cause weakness and sensitivity. These products can also burn your gums if applied incorrectly, and the effects often don’t last as long as professional treatments.

Speaking from experience, I tried all sorts of home teeth whitening products, from the blue light kits with mouth moulds, to whitening pens and every whitening toothpaste under the sun – and none of them ever got close to the effects of one 60 minute professional session.

If you do want to whiten your teeth at home, go for a peroxide-free product with dentist-approved ingredients like Crest’s 3D White Brilliance whitening mouthwash. If you have sensitive teeth, opt for Pearlii’s Teeth Whitening Kit made with a safe and gentle formula. You can also shop our favourite at-home kits here.

Does professional teeth whitening hurt?

The process shouldn’t hurt, but you can experience some sensitivity or discomfort during treatment. The bleaching gel can cause tooth sensitivity, however this fades during the treatment, and the mouth retractor can leave your lips and cheeks feeling sore after a while. After the treatment, you may experience tooth sensitivity for hours or days, but this also fades with time.

I personally didn’t experience any discomfort during the treatment, but my teeth were sensitive for about 12 hours after and my lips were a little chapped and sore for the following days.

Getting your teeth whitened shouldn’t hurt, but it’s always good to consult with your dentist before undergoing any treatment. (Credit: Pexels)

Does professional teeth whitening damage your teeth?

Regardless of how or where you whiten your teeth, there is always a chance your gums will be sensitive to the chemicals used and may react. Hydrogen peroxide can also cause damage and sensitivity to your teeth when applied incorrectly or too often, however professionals work to mitigate the risk of damage.

Always make sure to speak about possible risks with your dentist or practitioner before undergoing any kind of cosmetic treatment, including teeth whitening. And, of course, take care of your teeth before and after any whitening treatments with a proper oral hygeine routine – we personally prefer options that minimise waste, like this essentials kit from Pearlii.

How much does professional teeth whitening cost?

Costs vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the treatment, and it’s often more expensive to have your teeth whitened by a dentist than by another practitioner. Speak to your dentist or local clinics to find the pricing that best suits your budget.

READ NEXT: 6 teeth whitening kits to achieve pearly whites at home

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