If you’re tired of looking in the mirror and seeing yellow teeth instead of the gleaming white perfection that models and actresses on your favorite television programs seem to sport, it’s time to go for teeth whitening! Many people try to whiten their teeth at home, and while some of those home whitening kits have some merit, none are quite as effective as going for professional teeth whitening at your local dentist. This is because dentists use whitening kits with up to 40% hydrogen peroxide, whereas most over-the-counter kits only contain 7%.
How Many Hours Does It Take to Whiten Teeth?
Once you’ve decided that teeth whitening is indeed the way to go, the first question on your mind will undoubtedly be, “but how long does it take to whiten my teeth?” The answer to this isn’t simple. According to Bespoke Smile, there’s no stock-standard answer as it depends on what condition your teeth are in and what’s causing the discoloration.
In most instances, dentists can complete an in-office teeth whitening procedure within one to two hours. Thereafter, you may need follow-up treatments and will be required to do a thirty-minute to one-hour maintenance whitening session at home, at least once a month.
If you choose to use an at-home whitening kit, you will most likely use whitening trays, hydrogen peroxide gel, and a UV light (these are usually provided in the kit). These sessions are usually thirty minutes to an hour-long, and you may have to do them daily for three to four weeks to achieve the results you’re after.
The Teeth Whitening Process
Now, as already mentioned, the initial professional teeth whitening procedure can take two to three hours, but the entire teeth whitening process takes a lot longer than that. Depending on the dentist you use, the process could take more than one consultation.
First and foremost, the dentist has to ascertain how severely your teeth are stained to select the correct product and approach. Then, the dental team must create a mouth guard (almost like a retainer) using impressions. This ensures that when the teeth whitening gel is applied, it only goes on your teeth, not your gums, cheeks, and tongue.
Once the mouth guard is created, the dentist uses a color reference chart to see the severity of discoloration, and how much brighter and whiter they are able to make them.
A whitening gel is then applied to your teeth, and a special heating lamp is positioned to shine on your teeth for up to three 20-minute sessions. In between each session, the gel is cleaned out and reapplied to your teeth. There are several dentists known to speed up the process by using a laser.
After your three sessions (which are all done on the same day), the dentist will give you trays molded to the shape of your teeth and a whitening gel to use at home for your maintenance whitening sessions.
How Long Does Professional Teeth Whitening Last?
Of course, the perk of a professional teeth whitening procedure is that your teeth are bright and sparkly white – which is ultra-attractive. But above that, most people prefer professional whitening over store-bought home whitening kids because they are more effective in a short space of time and tend to last longer.
It doesn’t matter what type of teeth whitening you go for – home or professional options – because no teeth whitening effect can last forever. When it comes to teeth whitening at the dentist, the effects typically last for two to three years max. You will then need to go for teeth whitening again. With at-home teeth whitening kits, you will do maintenance whitening at least once every six months, but it depends on what product you use.
It’s important to note that teeth whitening can last longer for some people than for others. For instance, if you’re under thirty years of age, don’t smoke, and don’t drink tea and coffee, your teeth could remain bright and white for far longer than someone who is older and indulges in regular smoking and tea drinking.
To ensure that your teeth whitening procedure lasts, you can make certain lifestyle changes as follows:
- Brush your teeth after meals
Give stains less chance of forming by brushing food particles and bacteria away after each meal.
- Avoid foods that stain
You should avoid tea, coffee, white and red wine, tomato sauce, sugary foods, and berries.
- Use a straw
It may sound strange to drink your wine, tea, and coffee through a straw, but it can help extend the lifespan of your teeth whitening. Using a straw means that the staining liquid won’t come into contact with your front teeth (the teeth everyone sees), and so there’s less chance of staining.
- Eat foods known to protect teeth
Saliva production protects teeth, and crunchy fruits and veggies with a high water content help with saliva production. Add more apples, celery, and cucumber to your diet.
- Rinse out your mouth
If you’ve just had a delicious cup of tea or glass of wine, reach for the water bottle and rinse your mouth out well to ensure that any residual staining liquid or food particles aren’t left behind.
- Quit smoking
Smoking stains teeth, so it stands to reason that quitting your daily cigarettes will allow your teeth to stay white for longer.
- Do your maintenance whitening
At first, you may think that whitening your teeth once a month for maintenance sounds easy until life gets busy. Make it a set date with yourself once a month to ensure that you’re doing regular maintenance whitening at home. If you skip a monthly session, you may find that your teeth start to lose their sparkle much quicker.
Professional teeth whitening at your local dentist should take a maximum of two hours and then monthly maintenance sessions (at home). Over-the-counter teeth whitening can take up to four weeks to achieve the sparkly results that you’re after. Following the tips to extend your teeth whitening is also a good idea to get the most out of the process. Choosing the method that’s best for you often comes down to cost and, of course, how quickly you want to get the bright white teeth results you’re dreaming of.