How Permanent Are The Results Of A Teeth Whitening Procedure?

Ipswich dentist, Chirag Kothari, offers advice to patients considering this popular treatment.

Dr Chirag KothariThere is little doubt that the teeth whitening procedure is one of our most popular cosmetic dental treatment, as it is at many other dental practices in the UK. There are many possible reasons for this.

Not only has it widely been used by many TV reality ‘stars’, giving it a much higher profile that it would probably normally attain, but the fact that it is very affordable and produces such instant results appeals to many, especially those who want to look their best at short notice, perhaps for a special occasion.

The treatment that we use at the Foxhall Dental Practice is not only non invasive and therefore comfortable, but can be done in just one hour in a single visit, after which, your teeth will be significantly whiter than before.

Because so many high profile people have had this treatment, patients are generally happy to accept that it will produce great results for them in most cases. Where patients are not suitable candidates, we will advise and offer alternative options, as we shall see later. The question that we do get regularly asked though, is how long patients can expect the whiteness to last?

Whiter teeth for longer

The problem with the above question is that it is almost impossible to answer. So much depends on the patient’s teeth and their lifestyle and various factors can affect how long the teeth remain white before they start to discolour again.

As a very rough ‘rule of thumb’ guide, the whiteness following a teeth whitening procedure can last for up to a year or so. This is heavily dependent on a number of factors however, and as the new whiteness does not go from bright to dull overnight, it will depend on your own benchmark as to when, during the gradual darkening following the treatment, you decide that it is time to have your teeth re-whitened.

There are a number of things that patients can do to make the whiteness last for longer and doing the opposite of these will mean that the whiteness will fade much quicker.

Above all, keep your teeth healthy. Healthy tooth enamel is more resistant to staining than even slightly damaged enamel that has tiny pits and cracks that staining can find its way into.

Don’t smoke! Aside from this being extremely harmful to both oral and general health, it is guaranteed to stain your teeth really quickly.

Avoid teeth staining food and drinks. A quick search on the internet will give you a more comprehensive list but the following should definitely be moderated if you want to keep your teeth white for as long as possible.

  • Red wine
  • Tea and coffee
  • Dark berries
  • Soy sauce and related products
  • Some curries (especially the darker, staining varieties)
  • Acidic food and drinks as these will damage the tooth enamel. This includes ‘sports’ drinks

These are just some of the foods to be avoided for longer lasting whiter teeth.

A few patients have also asked us about teeth whitening toothpastes. Our view is that these are ineffective when it actually comes to whitening the teeth but they might help to prolong the whiteness following a professional whitening treatment. Be careful though, some of these pastes contain additional abrasives (to remove surface staining) that could cause damage to the enamel if used over zealously.

More permanent solutions

Although a tooth whitening treatment can be repeated perfectly safely, and many do take up this option, there is a more permanent solution that you might wish to consider. This treatment may also be a better option for anyone with heavily stained teeth or where there is slight damage, such as a chipped edge.

Dental veneers can be used to replace the surface enamel of your teeth, although this is a more complex procedure and is generally irreversible once done. It is a good option though as the porcelain that is commonly used to replace the enamel on the teeth is largely non staining and will therefore stay white for longer (although surface staining can still occur).

In most cases, patients will be given a local anaesthetic for this treatment and the dentist will then ‘shave’ off a very fine layer from the surface of the teeth. An impression is then taken, from which your new veneers will be made. Temporary veneers are fitted while this happens (around a week or so) to protect the teeth. When the new porcelain veneers are ready, the temporary ones are removed and your new ones attached using a special adhesive. Finally, we will trim and polish them and leave you with great looking white teeth.

As with teeth whitening, avoiding certain habits will help veneers to last and look better for longer. The whiteness should last for most or all of their lifetime which is usually around ten years. They can then be replaced using new veneers.

We do recommend that anyone considering having their teeth whitened does so using trained professionals such as our Ipswich cosmetic dentists. We strongly advise that you avoid either DIY ‘treatments’ that you find on the net, or the growing number of ‘at home’ solutions offered by some companies. These can vary from the ‘less effective’ to the ‘fairly harmful’ and should be avoided unless they are provided under the jurisdiction of a dental professional.

If you would like advice on having your teeth whitened, we are happy to help. Simply arrange to have an initial consultation at the Foxhall Dental Practice and we can arrange an appropriate treatment plan for you to give the very best results possible.

Please call us today on 01473 258396.