Teeth whitening is a popular way to give your smile a boost and improve your appearance. There are various methods available, from in-office treatments to at-home solutions, some of which have immediate effects while others take time. The results are often quite noticeable, but understanding how long they last is important in choosing an option that’s right for you.
So, how long does teeth whitening last? This article explains the factors that affect how long your teeth whitening lasts and what you can do to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening is the process of using a hydrogen or carbamide peroxide-based bleaching gel to remove stains and discoloration from teeth. The active ingredient works by entering the porous surface of the tooth enamel and lifting out organic molecules that cause stains and discoloration, giving you whiter teeth and a brighter smile. Depending on the type of product used, the bleaching agent is applied with a special tray or brush applicator over several sessions until desired results are achieved. In general, teeth whitening can provide dramatic results in a short amount of time.
Types of Teeth Whitening
Depending on your needs and budget, there are several kinds of teeth whitening methods, such as over-the-counter products with whitening agents, in-office whitening that uses bleaching agents, at-home bleaching, or laser whitening. Over-the-counter products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes can remove surface stains but do not provide long-lasting effects. In-office treatment is quick and produces optimal results; however, it can be more expensive than other options. Professional at-home bleaching with custom-fit trays offers gradual improvement over time from the comfort of your own home. Each of these types of teeth whitening options will give a different level of result and last for a different period of time.
How Long Does Professional Teeth Whitening Last?
Professional teeth whitening, like Zoom whitening, is by far the most effective method of lightening the shade of your teeth. Professional teeth whitening can last up to several years, depending on your lifestyle and personal habits. Results may last 1-2 years if you have good oral hygiene habits, avoid beverages like coffee, tea, and red wine; and refrain from smoking. You may need touch-ups every 6 months to keep your smile brighter for longer. Whitening procedures done by a dental professional can leave teeth as much as 8 shades whiter over a single visit, with dramatic, long-lasting results.
How Long Does At-Home Teeth Whitening Last?
You have several options when it comes to getting a whiter smile at home. There are professional whitening kits you can get from your dentist to use at home, and there are over-the-counter options. Professional kits from your dentist are much more effective than over-the-counter teeth whitening options. They consist of a whitening gel and custom trays that are fitted to your mouth that you wear at home for a certain period of time each day. Some drugstores offer similar kits, although they don’t contain professional-grade whitening agents.
The results of professional whitening treatment with an at-home kit generally last between 3-12 months, depending on how well you maintain them. To prolong the life of the treatment and keep your teeth looking bright, it is important to practice healthy oral hygiene habits such as brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. Additionally, avoiding staining foods and beverages such as coffee or tea can help preserve the whiteness of your smile. If you maintain these habits, you can optimize the lifespan of your teeth whitening treatment and enjoy a brighter smile for longer.
How Long Do Whitening Strips Last?
Over-the-counter teeth whitening strips are the least expensive—but least effective—option for removing extrinsic stains from your teeth. They are usually made with a hydrogen peroxide solution, and results typically last for up to 2 weeks, with the effects gradually fading over time. After the first application of strips, you may see results within 2 days, but full results can take up to 6 days or more. Since the results aren’t as dramatic and tend to take longer, people often misuse these strips by applying them too often, which can result in sensitive teeth or spots on the teeth or gums.
Factors That Affect How Long Your Teeth Whitening Lasts
The results of teeth whitening will be different for each person, depending on the severity and type of tooth discoloration, as well as the treatment option you choose and how you maintain your teeth after whitening.
Here are some factors that will affect how long your whitening results will last:
- Diet: Your diet is the number one factor in how long your teeth whitening lasts. Foods and drinks that are acidic in nature – like juices, sodas, coffee, and red wine – can lead to discoloration and stains on the surface of teeth, so it’s important to pay attention to what you consume. Cutting back on these items will help keep your teeth looking brighter for longer.
- Age: As you age, the enamel of your smile wears away and dentin (the yellowish layer below the enamel) begins to show through over time. This means that teeth whitening won’t last as long for older individuals who have more wear and tear on their smiles compared to younger individuals who may just need occasional touch-ups.
- Lifestyle Choices: Smoking cigarettes or using tobacco products can cause yellow stains and discoloration, reducing the overall value of both in-office and over-the-counter whitening products. These lifestyle habits should be avoided for longer-lasting results.
- Genetics: Genetics also play a role when it comes to tooth color; some individuals are born with naturally whiter teeth, while others have teeth with yellow or brown hues that take longer to lighten up.
- Whitening Products You Use: The type of whitening product you use will also affect how long your teeth stay white, specifically whether it is an at-home solution such as toothpaste or strips, an in-office treatment from a dentist, or an over-the-counter product like a mouthwash or rinse that contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
- Oral Hygiene Habits: Your oral hygiene habits play a significant role in how long your teeth whitening will last. If you brush and floss your teeth regularly and visit your dentist twice per year for dental cleanings and exams, you’ll avoid plaque and bacteria, which can lead to tooth staining.
Ways to Prolong Your Teeth Whitening
If you want to get the most out of your whitening treatment, here are some tips to prolong the life of your teeth whitening:
- Brush your teeth or rinse with mouthwash immediately after consuming dark beverages such as coffee, red wine, or cola.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco products.
- Drink plenty of water on a regular basis, which will help remove debris from your teeth between brushing.
- Keep your teeth clean by brushing at least twice daily and flossing daily.
- Schedule touch-up appointments every six months after your initial treatment.
Contact Olympic View Dental for Teeth Whitening in Seattle, WA
With proper care, professional teeth whitening can give you whiter, brighter teeth that you’ll be proud to show off! If you have questions about teeth whitening or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call today!