Teeth whitening can give you a brighter, whiter smile. Nowadays, people opt for this procedure to enhance their overall look and be more presentable. If you’re considering this cosmetic treatment or have recently undergone it, it’s essential to understand what to expect after the procedure.
In this blog post, we will discuss what typically happens after the teeth whitening treatment to guide you on how to care for your teeth afterwards. We will also provide tips on maintaining your results over time. Here is a look at what to expect:
What Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that reduces tooth discolouration and improves the overall appearance of your smile. To whiten the teeth, dental professionals use a bleaching solution which contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Such active ingredients lift surface stains by penetrating the layers of the teeth resulting in the whitening of teeth.
Teeth whitening is ideal for people with healthy, unrestored teeth (no dental restorations such as fillings or crowns) and good gum condition. This procedure is very effective in patients with yellowish teeth. While it is considered an efficient and safe technique to lighten tooth shade, some dental patients may experience temporary side effects following teeth whitening.
What Side Effects Can You Expect After Whitening Your Teeth?
Following professional whitening, temporary tooth sensitivity is common. It may manifest as a dull ache or sharp, sporadic pains. For most patients, increased sensitivity is manageable with over-the-counter pain medication and by avoiding hot or cold foods and drinks.
Individuals with sensitive teeth before treatment are more likely to experience discomfort and may wish to consider another alternative. An example of which is the use of bleaching gels that contains smaller doses of hydrogen peroxide per application.
Irritation of the Gums
If the whitening gel comes in contact with gum tissue, it may result in a brief but irritating chemical burn. It can cause the gums to sting for a few hours and to appear discoloured. These effects should subside within the first or second day. With professional treatment, accidental gum exposure to the bleaching solution can be significantly minimised.
If you experience gum irritation after teeth whitening, it should be brief and subside quickly. However, if you have concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your dentist.
You may experience a tingling or electric shock-like sensation in your newly whitened teeth. This can be another side effect caused by the bleaching agent used during the teeth whitening procedure. We suggest you note where and when these tingling sensations occur so you can inform your dentist during follow-up appointments. The tingling should go away within a few days. If it persists, please get in touch with your dentist.
While most patients do not experience any side effects after professional teeth whitening, it is possible. Be sure to consult your dentist beforehand to learn more details about any possible side effects and ways to reduce discomfort following your treatment.
Overall, you can enjoy your beautiful new white smile longer with proper care.
How Long Will Your Teeth Stay White?
Most people can expect their teeth to stay bright for 6 months to 3 years following the treatment. How long the results of your treatment will last will depends on a few factors, including the type of whitening treatment you use, your lifestyle choices, and, more significantly, how well you take care of your teeth afterwards.
This would mean that if you have good oral habits and keep your teeth clean (especially after enjoying some dark pigmented foods or drinks), you may be able to extend the lifespan of your results. Otherwise, they may only last as little as six months.
It’s important to note that the length of time may vary from person to person, and these are only an estimated duration of how long teeth whitening results last. The best way to know and ensure long-lasting results is to consult with a professional dentist. They can assess your individual needs and recommend the ideal treatment for you. Additionally, they may recommend helpful tips on how you can prolong the whitening effects on your teeth.
Why Do Your Teeth Discolour?
The following are the possible factors that may contribute to your tooth discolouration:
- Poor dental hygiene. Your oral hygiene primarily impacts how your teeth appear. Skipping professional dental cleanings and not brushing or flossing will allow plaque and food debris to accumulate. This buildup can eventually lead to the development of yellowish discolouration on your teeth.
- Certain medication. Common antibiotics doxycycline and tetracycline can cause side effects that darken the teeth. Antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, and antipsychotic drugs can also cause teeth to become discoloured.
- Dental materials. Amalgam restorations, particularly silver sulphide-containing materials, can give your teeth a grey-black cast.
- Excessive use of fluoride. We all know that fluoride is essential to achieving strong, healthy teeth, but too much use can lead to dental fluorosis. It is a condition in which the teeth become discoloured, usually with opaque white marks, lines, mottled enamel, and poor mineralisation.
- Injury or trauma to the mouth. Trauma can also cause the tooth to darken. If this happens, it is advisable to consult a dentist to determine the cause and treatment for the discolouration.
- Lifestyle habits. Some lifestyle choices like smoking, using tobacco products, and eating coloured foods may be why your teeth discolour, particularly if you’re doing them for an extended period.
What Food Should You Avoid After Teeth Whitening Treatment?
Newly whitened teeth can be more susceptible to staining, so after investing the time, money, and effort into the procedure, it is important to make good choices about what you consume in the two or three days right after the whitening treatment.
- Avoid any food in dark colour. We highly suggest sticking with light-coloured foods. Avoid coffee, tea, red wine, and tomatoes. If you can’t kick your morning coffee habit, try drinking it through a straw to limit its contact with your teeth.
- Foods with added colourants. Along with natural dark-coloured foods, you may also want to avoid anything with added colourants, as these can cause your teeth to become stained. Examples are soy sauce, ketchup, curry, bologna, chocolate, and colourful fruit juices.
- Acidic foods and drinks. It’s best to avoid consuming anything that has a high content of acid, as they can further irritate already sensitive teeth. These include lemons, grapefruits, blueberries, citrus juices, pickles, colas, alcoholic beverages, and anything similar.
- Sugary foods. Cakes, cookies, and ice cream are among the worst offenders when it comes to promoting tooth decay and possible staining. It’s best to steer clear of sugary foods during the first two days to avoid these problems.
How Do You Keep Your Teeth White?
By being more conscious of what you eat, you can help keep your teeth looking white and bright for longer. Focus on consuming light-coloured foods that are low in acid and free of pigments and food colouring.
There are plenty of alternatives that won’t impact your results, including the following:
- White bread
- Flour tortillas
- Skinless turkey or
- White rice
- White sauce pasta
- Light-coloured fruits and vegetables include apples, celery, cauliflower, mashed potatoes, onions, white corn, and bananas.
- White cheese
- Water is your best friend when it comes to keeping your teeth white. Not only does it help keep you hydrated, which is important for overall oral health, but it also doesn’t carry any risks of staining your teeth or wearing down your enamel surface.
Another tip to maintain whiter teeth and good oral health is to cut back on smoking or tobacco use. It is one of the harmful lifestyle choices which can cause dark stains. The key to getting the most out of your teeth whitening treatment is to be mindful of what you eat and your habits after the procedure.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
There’s no doubt that professional teeth whitening is one of the efficient ways to achieve a bright smile. The procedure is relatively safe when it’s done under the supervision of a qualified dentist.
On the other hand, some people who try to whiten their teeth on their own may opt for too strong products or misuse them. Studies have discussed that overexposure to bleaching solution can cause severe tooth sensitivity, gingival irritation, or even changes in tooth structure. So if you’re considering this cosmetic procedure, you must talk to your dentist first to avoid complications and determine whether you’re a good candidate.
How Often Can You Whiten Your Teeth?
How often you can whiten your teeth depends on your needs and the status of your teeth. On average, a person should see their dentist once per quarter to ensure their teeth stay white and shiny and there’s no underlying damage.
Touch-up treatments will be needed more often for people with heavily stained teeth or smokers. On the other hand, touch-ups may only be necessary for those with light staining and no smoking habits every few months. In comparison, some may even find that they only need it once a year.
Overall, the frequency varies from person to person, so follow-up appointments are something you may need to discuss with the dentist after the procedure to help you maintain your results.
Alternatives to Teeth Whitening
Alternatives to teeth whitening will rely on the problem you wish to cover.
- Tooth bonding. One alternative to teeth whitening is dental bonding. In this procedure, a composite resin is bonded to the natural tooth surface to cover chipped teeth or severely discoloured teeth. A skilled dentist will shape the resin to look like a natural tooth.
- Dental crowns. Dental crowns may be an option if you need both cosmetic and restorative work done on your teeth. It can cover the entire tooth, so they are used when the damage to a tooth involves more than just the front surface of the tooth. Crowns can address discolouration caused by decay, wear and tear, or trauma.
- Dental veneers. Some tooth stains may not work well with in-office whitening. Fortunately, veneers can be an excellent option for those wishing for a brighter smile but with severe tooth discolouration.
Teeth whitening is a relatively safe and common procedure that can be done in the dentist’s office. The dentist will take precautions to avoid any harmful complications, but you may experience some common side effects following the treatment. These are normal reactions and should only last for a short period. Please contact your dentist immediately if you experience prolonged discomfort or other problems.
Ellen Stirling Dental offers professional teeth whitening treatments and other cosmetic dental procedures. If you are looking for a dental clinic that can provide for your dental needs, our experienced dentists will be glad to work with you. Call us today at (08) 6192 1036, so we can start your smile goals!
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