5 misconceptions of teeth whitening

For a long time, I considered doing teeth bleaching but I hesitated because my friends kept telling me all these horror stories about how painful it is and how the teeth will become really sensitive after. Not forgetting that it’s also expensive!

I did teeth whitening at an aesthetics clinic back in 2005 (forgot the name of the clinic) and another teeth whitening session at Lush Aesthetics in April. While my teeth did improve over the years, I still felt insecure about my teeth. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t drink wine, I don’t take soft drinks, neither do I eat curry so there is no reason for my teeth to be too yellow.

Finally, I went to Orchard Scotts Dental to see Dr Ronnie Yap who explained the teeth whitening procedure to me properly. Doing it at a dental clinic is not the same as doing it at an aesthetics clinic. Dentists have approval by the health authorities to use a higher percentage of carbamide peroxide, thus it is more effective (30% versus less than 1%). Also, you should do a checkup on your teeth with your dentist before you engage in any teeth whitening. This is to ensure that your teeth is suitable for the procedure, in case you have any decays.


There are two kinds of teeth whitening procedures – one is in-office that is done in the clinic, the other is a take home kit. The in-office procedure requires a shorter time frame due to a higher concentration and hence results are more effective. The take home kit is something you can consider if you have a smaller budget. It’s usually over 10 days, where you apply whitening gel to a customised tray for your teeth and you wear it through the night. Alternatively, if budget permits, you can have both – complete the in-office procedure then use the take home kit to continue the whitening.

I went through both the in-clinic procedure by Dr Kelvin Chua at Orchard Scotts Dental, before continuing with the take home kit. I had a pre-treatment consultation, as well as a post-treatment appointment. They took very good care of me throughout and answered all questions I had.


Here are 5 misconceptions of teeth whitening that I want to clarify:

1) Teeth whitening is very painful.

You may experience a little sensitivity during the in-clinic whitening process, but there is no pain at all. It varies with individuals and for me, I didn’t feel any sensitivity during the process. There’s a rubber seal that protects the gums from the gel during the process. For about 24 hours after the procedure, I felt very slight sensitivity but it is nowhere painful.

2) Teeth whitening causes permanent sensitivity.

After that initial 24 hours, I felt no more sensitivity. It’s been two months since I did it and I have felt no sensitivity at all.

3) Teeth whitening gives movie-star smiles.

Please manage your expectations and not expect to get sparkly white teeth that you see in movies, commercials and magazines. Teeth whitening can remove stains, but there is a limit to how white it can be. Everyone has their own natural teeth colour and it depends largely on your lifestyle too. For example, if you take a lot of coffee, your teeth will stain quicker.

4) Teeth whitening will damage teeth enamel.

There is a fear that whitening can damage the teeth or the enamel through decalcification, but decalcification is caused by exposure to acidity, not peroxide. During whitening, the gel releases oxygen that enters the teeth to break down stains stuck to the teeth.

5) Teeth whitening lasts forever.

Teeth whitening at a dentist is said to last for about six months to a year depending on how you maintain them. Your teeth will naturally stain again, but you can go back for regular touch-ups or use the take home kits to maintain.