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How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

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Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments, but eventually, the results may fade. However, just like how good oral care can help keep your smile bright, there are ways you can extend the life of your teeth whitening treatment.

The lifespan of teeth whitening depends on the type of treatment and your lifestyle habits. Professional teeth whitening can last between 6 months to 3 years, while at-home teeth whitening can last for several weeks to a few months.

One of the best ways to support a bright smile and help your teeth whitening last is to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. We can provide you with detailed post-care instructions while you enjoy your new smile.

How Do Teeth Get Stained?

Just like your favourite white shirt might get stained by coffee or wine, so can your teeth. But how does this happen? The enamel, the outer layer of your teeth, is actually quite porous. This means it can absorb colours from the foods and drinks we consume. The acids formed by sugars and starches mixing with our saliva can also create an acidic environment that could make enamel more likely to stain.

When you enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine, the dark pigments can seep into the pores of your enamel, leading to discolouration over time. This type of staining is known as extrinsic staining, which affects the outside of the tooth.

Common factors of intrinsic staining include:

  • Red sauces, such as tomato sauce
  • Red wine
  • Coffee and tea
  • Chocolate
  • Smoking and other tobacco products

There is also intrinsic staining, which occurs within the tooth itself. This type of stain can be more difficult to address since it can sit deep below the surface and often appears greyish.

Intrinsic stains can be caused by:

  • Medications
  • Tooth decay
  • Genetics
  • Excessive fluoride
  • Tooth injuries

Age can also cause your teeth to become discoloured. Over time, your enamel wears away, which can lead to a yellow shade. Otherwise, a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors can simply pile up over the years, leading to a dimmer smile.

Types of Teeth Whitening

The lifespan of teeth whitening depends on what method you use. There are 2 types of teeth whitening treatments. The first one is surface whiteners, which are typically done at home, and the second is professional teeth whitening.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Options

If you want to brighten your smile from the comfort of your own home, you have quite a few options to choose from. Here are some of the most popular methods:

  • Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash: These may be the easiest to incorporate into your routine. They contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that help remove surface stains on your teeth. However, they do not change the natural colour of your teeth.
  • Whitening Strips and Gels: These over-the-counter products contain peroxide, which can lighten the colour of your teeth. You apply them directly to your teeth for a specified amount of time. It is important to follow the instructions to avoid sensitivity.
  • Tray-Based Whitening Systems: These involve filling a mouthguard-like tray with a gel whitening solution and wearing it for some time, often while you sleep. You can buy these over the counter, or your dentist can custom-fit one for you.
  • Whitening Devices: There are also small devices available that use light to hasten the whitening process. These are more high-tech but can be effective when used correctly.

Remember, at-home solutions will not give you immediate results—it is a gradual process. While they are generally safe to use, not all at-home whitening solutions suit everyone. It is a good idea to contact your dentist before starting a new whitening regimen.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Lifespan

At-home whitening products contain a lower concentration of bleaching agents than professional teeth whitening, meaning results may not be as dramatic and long-lasting. 

The lifespan of at-home teeth whitening varies depending on the product, but it typically lasts anywhere from several weeks to a few months.

Professional Teeth Whitening

If you are looking for quicker, more dramatic results, professional teeth whitening at the dentist could be the way to go.

Typically, your dentist will begin by cleaning your teeth and checking that there are no other issues they need to address. Then, they can place a protective barrier on your gums before applying a high-concentration peroxide gel to your teeth. This gel is more powerful than what you would find in at-home kits.

In some treatments, your dentist may use LED light to accelerate this process. The light activates the whitening gel, causing it to break down faster. This could result in a quicker and potentially more intense whitening effect that lasts longer.

The treatment can take up to an hour, but the results may be immediate. It is also typically safer as a professional supervises the process.

Professional Teeth Whitening Lifespan

Professional teeth whitening can last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, depending on your lifestyle habits. You can increase the longevity of your results by avoiding staining habits like smoking, drinking coffee, wine, and dark-coloured liquids, and taking good care of your teeth.

A female dentist in blue scrubs holding a clipboard and smiling at her patient in the dental chair

Cosmetic Dentistry for a Brighter Smile

The key to prolonging the longevity of teeth whitening is maintaining good oral hygiene habits, avoiding staining habits, and getting touch-up treatments when desired. If you are considering teeth whitening or have had your teeth whitened before and wonder how long it lasts, our team at Kensington Dental Care can provide professional advice tailored to your needs.

A brighter smile is within your reach. Book your appointment today and ask if professional teeth whitening is right for you.

Written by Dr. Geoff Van Blaricom

Dr. Geoff Van Blaricom has been practicing Dentistry for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Dental Association, Alberta Dental Association and College as well as the American Dental Association.

More Articles By Dr. Geoff Van Blaricom

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