Tooth Tips for Later Life

When Whitening Doesn't Work: Why Whitening Didn't Work on Your Teeth and What to Try Instead

Most people who are unhappy with the colour of their teeth can choose from one of the many whitening options available in the dental industry today. Over the counter whitening kits, whitening strips and laser whitening are just some of the treatments available. It would seem that teeth-whitening is a simple matter for most people. That's probably why Americans spend over 1 billion dollars a year on whitening treatments.

However, for a small minority, whitening treatments don't work, or at least they don't work as effectively as first expected. This poses a serious problem for people who want to whiten their teeth to assist them in pushing on in their career. Teachers, flight attendants, models, celebrities and doctors, all benefit from having a whiter smile.

Likewise, for those who simply lack confidence because of the colour of their teeth, poor whitening results can be disheartening, to say the least. But why isn't it working?

Previous dental work

Teeth that have had extensive dental restoration carried out on them, such as crowns, fillings, bonding or veneers, will not whiten as the bleaching agent used in whitening (peroxide) cannot penetrate those unnatural materials.


Some children are given the antibiotic: tetracycline to fight bacterial infections and outbreaks of acne. Unfortunately, this can lead to staining in adulthood. This form of staining is inside teeth and therefore difficult for whitening treatments to reach.

Issues with enamel

If the enamel of your teeth is thin, the underlying layer of dentin, which is naturally yellow in hue, causes your teeth to appear yellow. Whitening cannot work on dentin, nor is it advisable to try as your teeth will become exceptionally sensitive.

Although whitening doesn't work, there are other cosmetic procedures that produce a similar effect.

Composite bonding

Your teeth can be whitened in this way by applying tooth-coloured composite resin to the surfaces of the discoloured teeth. Your dentist will then shape and sculpt this resin to create the desired look, before using a high-intensity light to harden the material. Composite bonding lasts for approximately 10 years.

Porcelain veneers

These thin shells achieve much the same result as bonding or whitening, and the main difference is that they last much longer and are also considerably more expensive. However, they are ideal for those seeking to progress in their career as they can last for approximately 15 years if care is taken. However, your dentist will need to remove up to 0.5mm of enamel in order to affix these thin shells to your teeth. This is simply to ensure that your teeth don't appear too oversized with the addition of the veneer.

The discolouration of your teeth needn't hold you back in life. Seek out a cosmetic dentistry clinic that can help you to restore your teeth to their former whiteness.