How Long Does Professional Teeth Whitening Last?

We all know how having whiter teeth like pearls gives you a beautiful smile, boosting your confidence. But, not all people are born with natural bright teeth, or maybe your pearly whites became a bit discoloured due to your lifestyle.

Fortunately, we now have options to enhance the appearance of our teeth, like teeth whitening, to remove the stains that have been sitting on our teeth.

One of the most common questions patients ask the dentist is, “How long does teeth whitening last?” The quick answer is that it depends on the situation. On the other hand, the longer answer is that various factors influence how long your teeth will stay white after the treatment.

But how can you keep it looking at its best for as long as possible? Read on to learn more about how long teeth whitening lasts and how you can maintain your results after treatment!

What Is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a popular dental procedure that has existed for many centuries. Many people choose to undergo this type of cosmetic treatment because it is affordable. The goal of teeth whitening is to lighten the colour of your teeth by removing stains and buildup on the teeth’s surface.

Teeth whitening is also known as teeth bleaching because of the active chemicals, mostly hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. The teeth are usually a few shades whiter after treatment but not brilliant white.

The two main basic types of teeth whitening are professional whitening and do-it-yourself (DIY) whitening. The dentist does professional whitening using a more bleaching agent, while DIY bleaching can be done at home. There are products available on the market that you can use or ask your dentist to provide at-home whitening kits.

It is essential to consult with a dental professional before considering teeth whitening. Since the procedure involves a bleaching agent, if your tooth enamel is thin, you are more susceptible to tooth sensitivity, and teeth whitening may not be an option.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

The period of tooth whitening is determined by the type of whitener and the intensity of the treatment. Your diet, which includes the foods and drinks you consume, and habits such as smoking tobacco products, will have an impact on how long your teeth will stay white as well. Essentially, teeth whitening can last for up to two years or as little as six months. It differs from person to person.

The teeth whitening process is intended to diminish rather than deep clean. It is intended to reduce the appearance of tooth stains, not to make teeth resistant to them. These whitening methods will last longer if you keep your teeth clean and practise good oral care.

Whitening toothpaste, mouthwashes, and strips are available over the counter, and dental practitioners can also provide professional services such as in-chair whitening and DIY kits for at-home whitening. Each option has a different level of longevity.

Factors that Can Affect the Longevity of Your Teeth Whitening 

The majority of teeth whitening procedures are intended to have a long-term effect. Relapse is common, mainly as a result of personal diet and habits. While some people can achieve a whiteness that is several shades brighter than their previous tooth colour, others may only achieve a few shades of difference. Any two people’s outcomes will never be identical.

Type of Teeth Whitening Procedure

The type of whitening treatment you receive is a significant factor in determining how long your teeth will remain white following a procedure. You can have your teeth whitened professionally or at home with over-the-counter solutions, but both treatments operate differently and have varying degrees of success.

DIY teeth whitening products are available on the market; they may include toothpaste, gels, and whitening strips and pens. Naturally, some are more effective than others, but they usually contain fewer whitening agents than those applied in the office. Hence, they remove lesser surface stains.

On the other hand, you may opt for in-chair teeth whitening, or your dentist can offer you take-home teeth whitening kits. These are more expensive than other DIY remedies that you can order online or purchase off the market, but that’s because the teeth whitening trays are custom-made for you. More importantly, they can legally include higher concentrations of whitening agents– typically up to 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide. These are the substances that effectively remove stains.

Your Lifestyle

Our diet has a significant effect on our overall health and appearance.

Several foods and beverages have the potential to discolour teeth. It ranges from red wine, coffee, and tomato-based sauces. These are included in the list of foods you may want to cut back on if your teeth are whitened. Yet, it is not practical or fun. As a result, it is difficult to predict how long teeth whitening will last because it is largely dependent on your lifestyle.

The use of tobacco products is also a problem, as smoking is harmful to your dental health and can also cause tooth discolouration. Tobacco smoke contains various compounds that cause yellow or brown stains to form on the tooth enamel over time. Though excellent oral care, such as brushing, flossing, and rinsing, can help to minimise this issue, The effect of teeth whitening tends to last longer for non-smokers compared to those individuals who smoke.

Your Age

Our teeth are no exception to the fact that ageing isn’t always attractive. Our dental enamel naturally thins as we age. This exposes more of the tooth’s yellowish inner dentin, giving it a yellowish-white appearance. As a result, while teeth whitening methods can whiten the teeth of people of all ages, the lifespan of the treatment may not be the same for older individuals. Whereas a tooth whitening treatment may last longer on a younger person, it may be less noticeable and last only half the time on someone significantly older. Furthermore, older adults may require two or three procedures to achieve the same results as younger people.

Things to Avoid After Teeth Whitening Treatment

Imagine having perfectly white teeth. It’s great, right? But as mentioned, the longevity of teeth whitening treatment will significantly depend on the type of procedure, amount of bleaching agent and lifestyle patterns.

While professional teeth whitening can last up to two years, unhealthy lifestyles can affect the result and even harm your teeth. Below are some suggestions for keeping your newly brighter smile looking great for longer.

  • Limit your coffee, wine, and tea

While we understand you enjoy your daily cup of tea, and who doesn’t want a glass of red wine now and then, it’s well documented that acidic and tannin-rich foods and drinks can cause your pearly whites to appear noticeably worn. If you’re unable to abstain from your favourite beverages, consider drinking them through a straw to avoid the liquid coming into contact with your teeth.

  • Avoid tobacco products

If you smoke, quitting or significantly reducing your smoking is one of the healthiest ways to keep your teeth white. Because of the nicotine levels in tobacco, smoking stains teeth and causes bad breath.

  • Drink water and rinse your mouth

Drinking enough water throughout the day helps remove toxins from the body and wash away sugar and stain-causing bacteria that accumulate on your teeth after meals. People will comment on your dazzling white smile and how fresh and clear your skin seems.

After eating dark-pigmented food, practise rinsing your mouth with water to avoid stains and food particles that may build up on your teeth.

Oral Hygiene Tips

Brushing and flossing regularly are essential to proper care and prevent the accumulation of bacteria that can discolour teeth, leading to tooth decay. It’s also necessary to have dental appointments regularly.

  • Brush at least twice a day, and do it 30 minutes after eating.
  • Between whitening treatments, add a whitening toothpaste or rinse with mouthwash.
  • If you eat or drink anything that stains your teeth, brush them half an hour after a meal.
  • If you eat or drink something acidic, wait 30 minutes before brushing.
  • After eating food that may discolour your teeth, chew sugar-free gum or rinse your mouth with water.

Final Thoughts

Tooth whitening is a great way to achieve a brighter smile, but several factors depend on how long the results will last. Practising good oral hygiene habits helps maintain excellent oral health. Regular dental visits and brushing at least twice daily can help prolong your bright white teeth.

Although at-home treatments like whitening toothpaste, rinses, and pens don’t last very long, they can help extend the results of more successful whitening procedures.

Long-lasting whitening is achieved with at-home gel trays designed to fit your mouth by a dental professional and in-chair teeth whitening. 

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Peel Dental Studio

Dr. Bailey formerly served on the Australian Dental Association as President, Vice President Treasurer and Country Councillor. He was on the Australian Dental Association Federal Council and has always been keen to give back to the profession that has been his life. He has tutored student dentists at the Oral Health Centre in Perth.