Teeth Whitening products seem to be everywhere. From the supermarket, to your social media feed, you are bombarded with options and it can be difficult to make an informed choice. Getting effective results from a safe and reputable source is one thing, but how long does teeth whitening last?
Put simply, there is no easy answer. If you aspire to having permanently dazzling white Hollywood teeth then it is quite possible that porcelain veneers may be the only option to achieve your goals. But porcelain veneers cost more and are more invasive and time consuming.
Teeth whitening using over the counter or dentist prescribed products is usually the best place to start. Your teeth may be naturally discoloured, or affected by stains such as coffee, tea, red wine or cigarettes. Whitening toothpastes generally contain mildly abrasive formulas to scrub off surface stain, but are not effective in actually changing the internal colour.
So for the most part, these are not recommended and not all that useful, including the more recent charcoal fad. The active ingredient that is proven to whiten teeth is peroxide gel.
This needs to be in close contact with the tooth surface for a reasonable amount of time so it can penetrate the enamel layer and alter the colour. The best and safest way is to use a whitening strip or better still, a custom-made whitening tray accurately moulded to your teeth. This prevents excessive whitening gel being swallowed and reduces the chance of it irritating your gums which is more common in the “online” trays that incorporate lights. In fact, many of the popular products pushed by influencers contain no peroxide at all.
No matter what you use, your teeth will eventually fade in colour. This is the biggest reason the high intensity and usually more expensive instant whitening options have their limitations
The 1-hour instant whitening seen in dental surgeries and increasingly in shopping centres or beauty booths uses a very strong gel and a light source to heat and activate the bleach and propose that the light itself can influence the colour change. The main issue is that these procedures are often associated with high levels of sensitivity and risk of gum irritation and burning unless necessary precautions are taken.
Additionally, if your teeth fade, you need to go back to get it done again, where if you have your own custom tray, you can continue to whiten and maintain your smile conveniently and at low cost.
So how long does teeth whitening last? For some people this is up to 6 months, for others it is only weeks. If you continue to consume coffee and tea etc you can expect that your smile will lose its sparkle sooner. This is an effect of the tannins and other components, but put simply, if it will stain a white shirt, it will stain your teeth. You can reduce the impact by consuming less, but abstaining from coffee for some people is serious business and likely to cause a dramatic shift in mood and productivity!
Another option is to drink them through a straw and try to minimise the contact of the beverage against the visible surface of the tooth. This is easier said than done, and the thought of a flat white consumed through an eco-friendly straw is not something that will suit everyone.
Other factors that influence the longevity of teeth whitening may be beyond your control, such as natural tooth porosity (some teeth just absorb more stain), the presence of fillings in front teeth or other issues such as eroded or lost enamel. For these reasons, having your teeth properly assessed by a dentist, hygienist or oral health therapist is important before embarking on teeth whitening to avoid complications, get the right advice and therefore have the best chance of success.
In our opinion, the custom fitted use at home whitening tray with a mild peroxide gel formulation ticks most boxes. It is proven effective, but mild enough to minimise pain and sensitivity. The user is responsible and needs to be compliant to get a result, but the greatest advantage is that you can use your whitening trays for many years to top up and maintain your ideal tooth colour. The initial expense of getting them fabricated is usually well below the cost of instant whitening, and you are able to purchase refill tubes of the gel economically.
Alas, teeth whitening does not last forever, but is still a safe, effective and minimally invasive way to brighten your smile.