Wanting a brighter smile and teeth-whitening treatments go hand-in-hand but you may be wondering – does professional tooth whitening work? The answer is that, with just a few professionally-done sessions, your teeth can be as much as 2 to 5 shades lighter, however, it will depend on the condition of your teeth to start off with.
What happens during teeth whitening?
Depending on the type of teeth-whitening you choose, you may find that you’ll have to make several trips to the dentist over a couple of months.
Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and make you a mouthguard to use with a bleaching gel at home. Once at home, you’ll regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time over 2 to 4 weeks. Some whitening gels can be left on for up to 8 hours at a time, which shortens the treatment period to 1 week.
There is also laser whitening (or power whitening) where a bleaching product is painted onto your teeth and then a light or laser is shone on them to activate the whitening. This takes around an hour.
Does teeth whitening last?
As with all things cosmetic, over time the effects of the treatment can wear off and this is especially true if you don’t know how to take care of your teeth properly. There are certain habits that you should avoid if you don’t want staining to occur after the treatment. Here are a few ways to keep your teeth bright after professional whitening.
Avoid Foods that Stain
If you want to ensure that your whitening treatment lasts for a long time then you need to avoid eating or drinking anything that stains. Specifically, you should avoid food and drinks that contain tannins. This is a type of polyphenol that has the ability to break down in water. According to research, tannins can be found in beverages such as coffee, tea, and wine.
What makes tannins such a problem is that it causes colour compounds to stick to the teeth. And with time, they develop a yellow hue. So the next time you reach for a cup of coffee, a piece of dark chocolate or even a handful of berries consider something that will go a little easier on your teeth.
If you find the idea of not being able to have your morning cup of coffee too much to bear, then you could always try drinking your favourite beverage out of a straw. Drinking hot beverages from a straw may take a little getting used to but it can help to preserve the results of your whitening treatment as well as also protect your teeth from the sugar that tends to break down your tooth enamel.
The key is to make sure that the straw is positioned correctly. When drinking, hold the straw directly behind your front teeth. Also, refrain from swishing the drink around in your mouth before swallowing.
Admittedly, your molars will likely still be stained, but your most visible teeth will be exposed to less acidity. Not only will the whitening last longer, but according to professors at Temple University, you’ll experience fewer cavities.
If you’re searching for another reason to quit smoking then look no further. Another great way to ensure that your teeth remain bright after your whitening treatment is to refrain from smoking.
You see, the nicotine and tar found in tobacco can cause substances to bind to the outer lining of your tooth enamel. And this can cause yellow and brown stains. These changes don’t take very long to develop–typically only a matter of months. You might even need to drop by the dentist, perhaps an experienced cosmetic dentist if the stains appear permanent and you need treatment to get rid of them.
Eat Saliva-Producing Foods
While there are foods that cause staining there are those that can actually help you to preserve your bright smile. This is especially when it comes to foods that produce saliva. According to the American Dental Hygienists Association saliva is your teeth’ best defence against decay.
Why is this? Well, saliva contains things like calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate. And each of these elements can neutralize acids. So eat foods that are known for their saliva-producing properties.
This includes foods like parsley, celery, rosemary, cayenne pepper, apples and aniseed. Cheese is also good for saliva production. Try to put much of your focus on foods that crunch. Most importantly, you need to make sure you drink a lot of water.
Brush After Meals
Whenever you eat a snack or meal that contains sugar it produces acids that attack the enamel. Eventually, the acid breaks down the enamel and causes plaque. When the plaque isn’t removed it hardens into tartar. And research shows that tartar is porous so it can be easily stained by food and drink.
Tartar deposits usually settle between and behind the teeth and appear to be brown or yellow. The best way to avoid a tartar build-up is to brush after every meal.
This ensures that your enamel remains plaque-free. Take a travel kit everywhere you go. Also, use mouthwash so that bacteria can be washed away.
Even if you’re taking great care of your teeth it’s still very important that you see your dentist regularly. Not only can they check for issues that you may not even be aware of but they can also do a cleaning which will help to remove your most recent stains. This prevents unnecessary build-up. In most instances, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist twice a year.
How to prevent tooth pain from professional whitening
You should know that professional whitening treatments can result in increased tooth sensitivity, for example when eating hot, cold, or particularly sweet foods. This potential side effect of teeth whitening is generally reported to be short-term and should go away with time, however, if you already have sensitive teeth it may be worth considering whether the cosmetic benefit is worth the risk to your dental health.
Some dentists advise using a desensitising gel to brush your teeth two weeks before your appointment. It is recommended that you don’t brush your teeth immediately after your procedure as this can open the pores on your dentin which can be painful. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush too. You can also take anti-inflammatories or painkillers, to reduce the swelling of the nerves affected by the bleaching chemicals.
One of the biggest reasons that people choose to have their teeth professionally whitened is because it’s easy to get the results they want. However, if you want these results to last for a long time, you must take the proper steps to protect your time and investment. And this requires a certain amount of dedication. You must be willing to avoid certain foods, eat others, find alternative ways to enjoy food and drinks, quit smoking, maintain good oral hygiene and go for regular checkups. And, if you already have sensitive teeth, you may be better off avoiding this type of treatment altogether.