How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

It’s a new year and a new year means a new you, so why not a new smile? If one of your resolutions was to be happier, then smiling regularly is a key part of achieving that goal. However, smiling all the time is much easier when you feel good about the smile you are showing the world. One way to quickly brighten up the appearance of your smile is to have your teeth professionally whitened. 

Professional teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure performed in a dental office. Unlike over the counter whitening treatments, in-office treatments use a higher concentration of whitener and are applied by a dental professional. This means there are fewer risks and better results than over the counter treatments. 

When considering whitening treatments, a common question you may want to ask your dentist is, “how long does teeth whitening last?” It has been found that whitening treatments can last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, with the average being around 1 year. In most cases, there are different factors that can affect how long your whitening results last. These can include initial color, type of stain, the rate of exposure to highly pigmented materials, and oral habits. 

Stains can be derived from a variety of sources, but the most common come from pigments in the food and beverages we consume. Some examples of stain culprits are: 

  • Coffee & tea
  • Red wine
  • Colored condiments (ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, etc.)
  • Beets
  • Tomato sauce
Spoons aligned in a row with various colored condiments

These highly pigmented materials contain chromogens, which are colored molecules. Since your teeth are porous, they absorb these colored molecules and become discolored over time. The more you eat or drink things with colored molecules, the faster your teeth will become discolored. This is one reason why teeth whitening results can vary based on the individual. Therefore, people who regularly consume pigmented foods and beverages are more likely to have their results fade around the six month mark, while those who do not may be able to extend their results for longer. 

Importance of oral hygiene

However, stains can also be caused by other factors that cannot be easily managed, such as age, genetics, and certain medications. You cannot control your age or your genetics, and taking certain medications is most likely necessary to maintain your overall health. Nevertheless, these factors can also play an integral role in how long your whitening results last. Because of this, they should be discussed with your cosmetic dentist prior to having your teeth whitened. 

Luckily, there are also things that can extend your whitening results. Maintaining great oral hygiene is one main way to keep your teeth whiter for longer. Twice daily brushing and flossing once a day removes the excess plaque and tartar, as well as superficial stains before they can be absorbed into the tooth. Brushing after consuming highly pigmented substances can also help keep discolorations under control. In some cases, your cosmetic dentist may also provide you with take home whitening trays or special whitening toothpaste to maintain your results. 

Dr. Anthony Mancino

Dr. Anthony Mancino is Monmouth and Ocean County New Jersey’s General and Cosmetic Dentist and has been practicing for over 25 years focusing on cosmetic and overall dental health. Dr. Mancino is a graduate of Villanova University and University of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, New Jersey Dental Association, Monmouth & Ocean County Dental Association, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Academy of General Dentistry.

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