It is normal for teeth to yellow or become stained over time, but teeth whitening can return a smile to its original brightness. The American Association of Orthodontics reports that more than 30% of Americans are unhappy with their smile. Getting teeth whitened is a simple, easy process that can help anyone regain confidence in…
How Long Do Teeth Whitening Results Last?
Teeth whitening is the practice of using certain substances, such as hydrogen peroxide, to brighten the color of a patient's teeth. Professional teeth whitening treatments can help people enjoy better results than at-home kits for a whiter and brighter smile, and with fewer side effects as well. How long the treatment lasts depends on a variety of factors. On average, most patients wait about a year between treatments. Some schedule them as often as three months apart while others may wait three years or more for their next whitening session.
Factors that affect teeth whitening results
The results of a whitening treatment can vary based on the type and severity of the staining. The full effects are usually not instant because the whitening gel used during treatment continues to work on stains for several hours or even a day after. For this reason, dentists usually recommend a white-food diet for the first 48 to 72 hours after teeth whitening, while the enamel is especially susceptible to new stains.
The lasting factor of teeth whitening has less to do with old stains reappearing and more to do with new stains developing. How well patients care for their teeth, along with their dietary and personal habits, has the greatest impact on how long the teeth will appear white. Other factors, such as enamel loss or genetic conditions, can also cause tooth discoloration at a more rapid pace.
What side effects can I expect?
In addition to ensuring that the results of the whitening treatment last a long time, side effects may also be a concern prior to the appointment. Some of the more common questions that people have regarding dental procedures have to do with what negative things they might experience after the procedure.
Some of the side effects associated with professional teeth whitening include irritation of the teeth and gums, increased sensitivity of the teeth, and discomfort of the stomach or throat. The dentist might recommend avoiding very cold or hot foods for a day or two after the appointment. It is generally recommended that you call your dentist if side effects persist or become worse after a couple of days. Being aware of possible side effects can allow patients to focus on maintaining the positive results of the professional whitening treatment.
How to maintain whiter teeth
First and foremost, patients should follow a dentist's recommendations for follow-up care after a teeth whitening treatment. Otherwise, the results could be negatively impacted and you will need to spend more time and money receiving future teeth whitening treatments. Other daily habits also play a role in maintaining a whiter smile.
Avoid foods and drinks that cause stains
Some foods are made with artificial dyes or are rich in natural tannins, both of which can stain tooth enamel. The worst culprits include:
- Coffee and tea
- Red wine
- Dark berries or beets
- Balsamic vinegar or soy sauce
- Foods or drinks with bright artificial colors
Ideally, those who have had a professional teeth whitening treatment should avoid or severely limit these options to prevent new stains. Drinking with a straw can also help by keeping beverages away from the front teeth where stains are more noticeable.
Do not smoke or use tobacco
Tobacco use is not only terrible for your physical and dental health, but it can also lead to serious staining or yellowing of the teeth. This includes both smoking and chewing tobacco. Take steps to break this habit if it is a current practice in your life. Some things that can assist people with quitting smoking include nicotine patches and gum, as well as seeking alternative methods of stress relief.
Keep your teeth clean
Even if you avoid foods or products with dark or bright colors, you can still develop stains when you fail to properly clean your teeth. Try to rinse or brush after every meal, brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day. The use of whitening toothpaste and mouthwash may help maintain the results of your professional whitening treatment. Professional cleanings are also essential for tartar removal and stain prevention.
Professional teeth whitening can remove unsightly stains and discolorations for more beautiful teeth. With proper home care and good habits, the results can last much longer, allowing you to enjoy a whiter smile for months or even years between treatments. Talk with your dentist to determine which schedule and home care plan is right for you. Also, make sure to discuss any possible side effects of the whitening treatment that you are concerned about.
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