If you want to beautify your smile, but don’t want to undergo or pay for expensive cosmetic dental procedures, then you may be considering having your teeth bleached. Teeth bleaching is an affordable cosmetic dental treatment that removes years of stains and brightens your smile in as little as a single dental appointment. With professional teeth bleaching procedures, you are in and out of the dentist’s chair quickly with a brand new smile.
But, how long does this new smile last? Surely teeth bleaching doesn’t last forever? Unfortunately, no teeth bleaching does not last forever. It’s kind of like washing your clothes; they’re clean for the time being, but they will eventually get dirty again. Luckily, teeth bleaching does last longer than clean laundry.
How long your teeth bleaching results last will partially depend upon the type of bleaching agent your cosmetic dentist uses. Although bleaching agents are generally either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, there are varying concentrations, as well as different methods. Because there is such a wide range of whitening options, the average teeth bleaching results can last anywhere from six months to three years. In most cases, however, people tend to have results that last about one year.
Not only is the lifespan of your bleaching treatment dependent upon the type of bleaching agent used, but it is also dependent on your lifestyle as well. This is one key reason why teeth bleaching may last for three years on one person, while it only makes it to six months with another. In terms of lifestyle, the two most important factors that affect how long bleaching lasts are diet and oral hygiene habits.
Before we get into how these factors can affect how long your teeth bleaching results will last, it is important to have a brief understanding of how teeth bleaching works. When you have your teeth bleached, or whitened, the whitener is applied to the surface of your teeth and left to sit. During this time, it is absorbed into the enamel and dentin layers of your tooth. Once inside these layers, the whitener initiates a chemical reaction at the molecular level that essentially dissolves the molecules responsible for tooth stains. Even after the whitener is rinsed off the teeth, it will continue to dissolve stains for 24 hours after its initial application.
After 24 hours, the whitener is safely absorbed by the body and is no longer effective. Therefore, it can only remove existing stains, not new stains. This is why people who consume larger amounts of highly pigmented foods and beverages tend to have their results fade sooner. Things like coffee, tea, wine, colored condiments, beets, and pasta sauce to name a few, all contain colored molecules that are absorbed by the teeth. Over time, this will eventually result in the teeth becoming discolored.
Since some of these stains can be controlled by regular brushing and flossing, it is important to keep up with your daily oral hygiene routine in order to extend the life of your bleaching results. Additionally, dental cleanings every six months will remove excess plaque to make it easier to keep your teeth clean and prevent staining. It is also helpful to brush immediately after consuming highly pigmented foods or beverages so the pigments can be removed before they are absorbed by the teeth.
Overall, professional teeth bleaching procedures have the ability to produce results that can last as long as three years. However, the lifespan of your bleaching results will inevitably be affected by what you eat and how you take care of your teeth. Therefore, you will want to reduce the amount of highly pigmented foods and beverages you consume, as well as practice good oral hygiene habits to maintain your new smile.
Dr. Quartano is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. He is also an active member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Dental Association, Northlake Dental Association, and has attained D.O.C.S. certification. Dr. Quartano has served as Committee Chair for the LDA Council on New Dentist since 2011. Dr. Q is also a member of the Spear Faculty Club which limits its membership to just 1000 dentists worldwide. Since graduating from dental school Dr. Quartano has completed over 700 hours of postdoctoral education in Implants, oral surgery, Cosmetic dentistry, Endodontics, Invisalign, and Advanced Restorative techniques. Dr. Quartano has also completed Foundational and Core workshops at the Spear Center for Advanced Dental Education.