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How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

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A man wearing protective eyewear while getting a teeth whitening treatment done at the dentist office.

Coffee, soda, berries, sauces—over time, all of these can leave an impression on your teeth.

Though tooth discolouration is a common cosmetic concern many can experience, tooth whitening strategies can help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. But how long do these treatments last? And which one would be the best for you and your needs?

We all love the feeling of having a glowing, pearly white smile, so let’s look at the most common whitening treatments and how they can serve you. Of course, if you’d like an even closer look at our tooth whitening options, please feel free to book an appointment at Cooper Dental.

We proudly serve Calgary with the help of our Downtown and Cougar Ridge locations.

How Tooth Staining Happens

So, why should you consider a tooth whitening treatment?

Your teeth accumulate stains throughout your life, leading to overall tooth discolouration. Without treatment, your teeth can develop a yellow, brown, or orange hue, depending on what may be causing your discolouration. 

However, not all tooth stains are the same, and some might require different strategies to clean them away.

There are 2 types of tooth staining:

  • Intrinsic staining occurs on the inside of your tooth enamel. This staining typically develops with age, but injury, genetics, medications, or even health conditions can lead to intrinsic tooth discolouration. To help whiten intrinsic stains, we recommend in-office or dentist-led whitening programs.
  • Extrinsic staining occurs on the outside of your tooth enamel. External factors like foods, drinks, and tobacco use typically cause extrinsic staining. 

However, black, brown, or white chalky spots on your teeth could indicate tooth decay, leading to more serious oral health problems if our team does not address them.

What Is Tooth Whitening & How Long Does It Last?

Whitening is the process of addressing and correcting tooth discolouration. However, before we recommend a tooth whitening treatment, we’ll need to examine your teeth and determine what may be causing the stains you’re developing.

Some of these methods can be found at your local pharmacy in the form of whitening toothpaste and mouthwashes, while others include dentist-guided whitening tray programs or in-office UV or LED light treatments.

Regardless of the method you choose, though, tooth whitening treatments will eventually wear off. However, certain treatments last longer than others, sometimes up to 2 to 3 years!

Some of the most popular whitening strategies include:

Whitening Toothpaste & Mouthwash

You can find whitening toothpaste and mouthwash at virtually any pharmacy. These products may include several ingredients to help whiten teeth, including hydrogen peroxide and mild abrasives. Still, it can take up to 6 weeks to notice results if you’re using them as part of your dental care routine.

These results generally last up to 3 to 4 months. Because of some of the abrasive ingredients in these products, their efficacy is uncertain and we typically do not recommend these products as a whitening strategy.

Whitening Strips

When you think of tooth whitening, you probably think of the teeth whitening strips you’ve seen on television and the Internet.

Whitening strips are over-the-counter products that use peroxide to help rid your teeth of stains. In some cases, these products may also come with an LED accelerator light to help speed up the whitening process.

Still, despite some of the claims these clever advertisements may suggest, it can take several weeks to experience results from whitening strips. From there, results may only last up to 6 months. These products can be quite fussy to work with, though, as they need perfect placement and control of your saliva to help maintain a dry environment and achieve the results you want.

One study also suggests that excessive use of tooth whitening strips can affect dentin’s strength and resistance.

Whitening Gel Trays

If you’re genuinely interested in whitening your smile, whitening gel trays can provide longer-lasting results compared to over-the-counter whitening techniques.

Our team will take impressions of your teeth to help us create a customized plastic whitening tray for this treatment. We then provide you with a peroxide gel you’ll use to fill your whitening trays before placing them over your teeth.

Depending on your teeth, our doctor will provide a gel with a certain amount of peroxide for your discolouration needs. You’ll then wear your whitening trays anywhere between a few hours to a few days at a time.

We’ll have you come into our office periodically so we can monitor your progress. By following the plan given to you by our dentist, you could experience results in as little as 2 to 4 weeks. With proper oral hygiene practices, these results can last up to a year or even longer.

In-Office Whitening

For the quickest, longest-lasting results, choose an in-office whitening treatment.

In-office whitening treatments use a combination of whitening gel and light/heat to accelerate the process, address deep staining concerns, and uncover your beautiful glowing smile. 

These whitening sessions can take a couple of  hours, but after, you’ll have sparkling white teeth that can last up to 3 years with proper care and hygiene practices.

A close up of a smile showing the before and after affects of a teeth whitening treatment

Can You Whiten Bridges, Dentures, & Veneers?

Unfortunately, tooth whitening treatments can’t help address discolouration on dentures, bridges, crowns and veneers. 

In fact, according to The Canadian Dental Association, teeth whitening treatments could cause artificial teeth to look darker compared to a natural tooth with teeth whitening.

Are There Any Side Effects?

If you follow the instructions provided by our dental team, you may only experience some mild tooth sensitivity and gum irritation for a short period. However, if these symptoms persist or worsen, please discontinue your whitening plan and book an appointment with us.

Some studies have also found that overusing tooth whitening strategies can soften your tooth enamel and affect dentin integrity, increasing your risk of developing a cavity.

Keeping Your Smile Bright

No matter what treatment you choose, please speak to our team before making a final decision, especially if you’re pregnant, have cavities, or regularly experience tooth sensitivity or other oral health problems. Sometimes, we might need to perform other dental work before offering a tooth whitening treatment.

Routine and dedication are vital to keeping a healthy, pearly white smile. If you want to prolong the results of a tooth whitening program, brush twice daily and floss after each meal. The first step, though, is booking an appointment. Book yours today with the team at Cooper Dental and uncover your dream smile today.

Written by Dr. Deborah Cooper

Dr. Deborah Cooper completed her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1992 from the University of Alberta. With over 30 years of experience in general dentistry, her passion for her profession is evident in how she strives for excellence. She attends dental courses to stay up-to-date on the most current developments in dentistry. Dr. Cooper has a special interest in conservative aesthetic dentistry and creating natural-looking smiles with healthy bites. For Dr. Cooper, individual patient care has always been her top priority. Many of her patients have been with her for well over 30 years. She also values her team and has many long-standing team members.
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