How to Care for Your Teeth After a Whitening Treatment
If you ask people what they would most like to change about their smile, they usually reply that they’d like whiter teeth. The colour of your teeth is one of the most immediately visible ways for strangers to tell you to take care of yourself. For coffee, chocolate, and red wine lovers, keeping your teeth a brilliant white can be a daily challenge.
Certain foods and habits have a tendency to stain teeth if indulged in regularly. Smoking and consuming darkly pigmented foods and drinks will do this. Depending on your oral hygiene routine, the regularity of your dental check-ups, and your genetics, your teeth could take on a depressing yellow, brown, or grey hue. If you’d like to get your smile back to a youthful, healthy white then teeth whitening treatments may be an option for you.
Teeth Whitening Treatments
There are many levels to the intensity of teeth whitening treatments you can choose, which vary greatly in price and effectiveness. They include:
- Stain removal toothpaste, which is the cheapest option but offers the least dramatic results
- Over the counter whitening strips and pastes, which generally work better than toothpaste but do not have the same clinical strength of whitener as a professional treatment
- At-home treatments administered by a dentist, which usually takes several visits
- In-office bleaching, which offers the most dramatic result and usually only takes one visit
Teeth whitening works by delivering bleach to the teeth’s surface (either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These bleaches target stains and break them up into smaller pieces, making the colour of the teeth more pronounced. Your teeth look brighter and whiter as a result.
How to Keep Your Teeth White After Treatment
What you do immediately after a teeth whitening treatment dictates how well the results will last. The first twenty-four hours after treatment are especially important. Here are some rules for post-treatment care, in addition to the guidelines your dentist advises:
- Avoid drinks that leave dark stains such as coffee, red wine, fruit juice, dark sodas, beer, and black tea
- Avoid foods that leave dark stains such as soy sauce, cured meats, chocolate, and any kind of fruit
- No smoking, although limited use of e-cigarettes is ok
- Avoid coloured toothpaste and mouthwashes, for example, red or blue
These guidelines can be summed up as “if it would stain a white shirt, it will stain a white tooth”. Whatever passes through your lips after a tooth whitening treatment should be light coloured and a soft, non-acidic texture. Some foods that fall under this description and would be good choices post-treatment include:
- White cream sauces
- White cheese
- Skinless chicken breast
- Peeled potatoes
- White yogurt
- Clear coconut water
- Clear alcohol with light mixers, such as gin and tonic or vodka soda
After the first twenty-four hours, try to avoid teeth staining foods for as long as you can. This will greatly impact how long the results of your treatment last. If you go right back to your teeth-staining habits then you’ll notice the whiteness of your teeth starting to dull after only three months. If you keep up your good habits your teeth whitening should last for a year or more.
Some tips for ongoing care include:
- Brush your teeth with water or white toothpaste immediately after eating or drinking anything that stains
- Follow a good daily oral routine, including brushing, flossing, and mouthwash every morning and night
- Consider whitening touch-ups every six months or so for best results if you smoke or drink a lot of dark beverages
Do Whitening Treatments Damage Your Teeth?
Professional teeth whitening does not damage the enamel, so you don’t have to worry about hurting your teeth with too many appointments. However, excessive at-home treatments could have a detrimental effect on your teeth, and after a while, it will become apparent that your white teeth are due to cosmetic enhancements. If your teeth are blinding white beyond a natural level it can be distracting and unnerving to look at.
Since dental whitening is not usually covered by insurance it’s in your best interest to learn how to maintain your results for as long as possible. If you’re in a profession where white teeth are an asset, such as acting or sales, this is especially true.
A whiter smile is a huge confidence boost for anyone, whether or not they flash their pearly whites for a living. A dull, yellow smile can add years to your appearance and gives away any unhealthy habits you partake in.
Teeth whitening is safe, quick, effective, comfortable, and affordable. If you’re uncomfortable with your smile and feel your confidence would benefit from having a brighter, whiter smile, contact your local dental clinic about their whitening options.