‘Doc, Are My Teeth Too Yellow?’

Doc, are my teeth too yellow?

This is a common question people ask me almost every day.

My reply?

Do YOU think your teeth are too yellow?

Of course I already know the answer as people happy with the colour of their teeth don’t usually ask this particular question.

Yes Doc, my grandkids / partner / children / friends / tennis instructor think they are too yellow. Is there anything we can do about it?

Absolutely we can.

Firstly we have to work out why your teeth are discoloured. Do you smoke / drink coffee / drink tea / drink red wine / drink cola / take vitamins / eat liquorice / chew betel buts / take medications / are you getting older, etc ….

Yes, yes and yes.

Are you likely to stop any or all of the above?

Ummm, I’ll try Doc… (averting eye contact)

OK… then we have a few choices. We can 1. do nothing 2. whiten your teeth or 3. cover the stains with a whiter restorative (filling) material.

Great Doc, which one’s the cheapest?

Well, doing nothing is the least expensive but I’m guessing you want something done? So I would say whitening is the way to go.

Great Doc, lets do it!

OK, do you want In-Chair Teeth Whitening or Take-Home Teeth Whitening?

Um, whats the difference Doc?

Well, Take-Home Teeth Whitening involves me taking impressions of your teeth and constructing a stent – which is like a thin mouthguard – and giving you some whitening gel which you place into the stent at home either for an hour a day (a stronger gel), or overnight (a weaker gel) and you do this for 2-3 weeks or until your teeth get lighter.

In-Chair Teeth Whitening involves applying an even stronger whitening gel too the teeth and shining a bright light on the gel to ‘activate’ it. We also need to make the stents that I described previously as the In-Chair result is only temporary and will fade quite quickly so you will need to top it up with the take home whitening.

Oh and did I mention you may get tooth sensitivity?

But Doc, I already have sensitive teeth – will it make things worse?

Well its hard to know but lets just say its not going to improve the sensitivity issue. However there are steps we can take to decrease the sensitivity. We could: 1. not whiten you teeth, 2. desensitise your teeth before and after whitening your teeth, 3. use a ‘low sensitivity’ whitening agent, 4. only whiten your teeth on alternate days, 5. cover any super sensitive areas with white fillings before treatment or 6. stop whitening if you get any increase in sensitivity. How does that sound?

Um, what would you recommend Doc?

Well generally I would avoid In-Chair Teeth Whitening due to the higher chance of sensitivity you can get with In-Chair Whitening, unless you are – lets say – getting married tomorrow and just HAVE to have whiter teeth over night. So Take-Home Teeth Whitening with maybe a low sensitivity whitening gel may be the way to go.

Lets do it Doc.


Tony Di Salvo

The Good Doctor Dentist


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