Tooth discolouration is a common problem – but you don’t have to put up with dull and discoloured teeth. Teeth whitening is a popular and effective cosmetic treatment, and an easy and affordable solution to the problem of a dingy smile. Teeth whitening dissolves stains on your teeth to produce a whiter colour and can dramatically whiten teeth that have become discoloured over time. Here’s a rundown of the timelines you can expect to encounter when undergoing teeth whitening treatments.
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How long will it take for teeth whitening treatments to show results?
Exactly how long results take will very much depend on the type of whitening treatment you choose. There are three main types of whitening treatment:
1. In-chair treatment. This occurs at a dental clinic when a dentist applies whitening solution to your teeth. A special light may also be used to help lift stains from the surface of the tooth. It’s a quick and effective treatment that can occur in a single visit.
2. At-home treatment. You can whiten your teeth at home over the course of a few weeks with a special whitening kit from your dentist. Your dentist will create a mould of your teeth, which you fill with whitening gel and wear over your teeth. Doing this, you can gradually build up the whiteness of your teeth over time, in the comfort of your own home.
3. Whitening toothpastes. These are effective only on mild discolouration and will only whiten your teeth by about one shade. They won’t give a dramatic result, but are a cheap and simple option. However, it’s not advisable to use whitening toothpaste over a long period of time, as it can eventually damage your tooth enamel.
In-chair treatments are the most effective treatment, and can give instant results. If you use an at-home treatment, you can expect results in a few weeks. It may take a month or more for whitening toothpaste to show a result.
The speed of results will also depend on the level and type of discolouration of your teeth. As well, the natural shade of your teeth will have an effect on how quickly they whiten. Teeth which are very stained or discoloured will not whiten as much as whiter teeth. Yellow-coloured teeth will whiten better than grey-coloured teeth.
How long before a big event should I start teeth whitening treatment?
People often consider teeth whitening before a big event, such as a wedding. You will need to ensure you leave enough time before the big day for the treatment to take effect. Different treatments take different amounts of time, so take that into consideration when choosing the best treatment for you. Also keep in mind that it’s better to solve any existing dental problems before you undergo whitening treatment, as the whitening chemicals can aggravate some existing conditions. All this takes time, so make sure you plan your treatment well in advance. Consult your dentist for advice.
How long will teeth whitening last?
Depending on the treatment you choose, teeth whitening may last anywhere up to two years. Exactly how long it lasts will depend upon:
- The reasons your teeth became discoloured in the first place. If these reasons are not addressed, they will continue to be a problem and your teeth are likely to rapidly become discoloured again.
- Your food and lifestyle choices. If you regularly consume bright-coloured foods and drinks that will stain your teeth and if you regularly smoke, you can’t expect any teeth whitening treatment to last too long.
No whitening solution is permanent, and you will always need touch ups or further treatment in the future.
How can I make my teeth whitening treatment last as long as possible?
You’ll need to have teeth whitening procedures less often if you use the following strategies:
- Avoid foods and drinks that will stain your teeth. Beverages such as red wine, coffee and tea will soon make your newly whitened teeth look dull and stained again if you drink them too often. Staining foods such as beetroot or blueberries will have the same effect. As much as possible, avoid these foods and drinks to keep your teeth looking beautifully white.
- If you can’t avoid such foods or drinks, minimise the damage. If you really can’t avoid consuming staining foods and drinks, do your best to minimise the damage afterwards. If you must drink staining drinks, drink them through a straw to limit direct contact with your teeth. If you eat food that is likely to leave stains, rinse your mouth out with water each time you indulge, to remove as much of the staining agent as you can. If possible, brush your teeth as well.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking is the worst thing possible for keeping your teeth white. Regular contact with tobacco will give you a yellow, dull and unattractive smile sooner than you thought possible. If you want your teeth to stay as white as possible, quit smoking entirely or reduce your smoking habit as much as possible.
- Maintain good oral hygiene practices. To keep your teeth as stain-free as you can, commit to daily brushing and flossing. Twice a day is the minimum, at least after breakfast and before bedtime. It’s also worth taking your toothbrush to work and brushing after meals, to give your smile the best chance of staying white and bright.
- Get your teeth professionally cleaned. As well as this, get your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist twice a year. This will help extend the time between whitening treatments. Your dentist can polish off stubborn stains much more effectively than you can, which will prevent them from becoming set in.
- Use whitening toothpaste. While whitening toothpaste is not as effective as whitening treatments performed by your dentist, it can still play a role in the time between treatments. You can keep your teeth looking whiter for longer by using a good whitening toothpaste to help remove surface stains. Once a week is probably enough to be effective, and you can keep using your regular fluoride toothpaste for the rest of the time.