Frequently Asked Questions About Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening has become one of the most frequently requested dental procedures by the public. We have come to demand whiter, more perfect smiles, despite the large amounts of coffee, tea, or soda we may consume. From our high demand for teeth whitening at Lift Clinic Toronto, we thought it would be a great idea to address some of the most common questions we hear in our practice.

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Does teeth whitening work on all types of stains?

The best stains that respond to teeth whitening treatments are your classic yellow-stained teeth. Yellowish teeth respond well to bleaching, brownish-coloured teeth respond less well, and grayish-hue or purple-stained teeth may not respond to bleaching at all. This stressed the importance of a consultation, and changing the lifestyle factors that contribute to teeth stains (drinking coffee, tea, soda, smoking, etc.)

With all types of bleaching procedures, the degree of whiteness will vary from individual to individual depending on the condition of the teeth, nature of the stain, the concentration of the bleach and the duration of time and bleaching system used.

How often do you need to touch up?

Whitening is not permanent. People who expose their teeth to a lot of foods and beverages that cause staining may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as 1 month. Those who avoid foods and beverages that stain may be able to wait 1 year or longer before another whitening treatment or touch-up is needed.

How can I maintain a brighter, whiter smile?

After whitening your teeth, it’s important to maintain it. Instructions include:

  • Avoid the consumption of or exposure to products that stain your teeth. If you do choose to consume beverages that stain, consider using a straw so that the liquid bypasses your front teeth.

  • Brush or rinse immediately after consuming stain-causing beverages or foods.

  • Maintain good oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss at least once daily to remove plaque. Use a whitening toothpaste (once or twice a week only) to remove surface stains and prevent yellowing. Use a regular toothpaste the rest of the time.

  • Consider touch-up treatments. Depending on the whitening method used, you may need a tough-up every 6 months or after a year or two. If you smoke or drink lots of stain-causing beverages, you may need a touch up more often.

Are there any risks associated with teeth whitening?

Though the risks are low, two side effects that may occur are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity and mild irritation of the gums. Tooth sensitivity often occurs during early stages of the bleaching treatment. Tissue irritation most commonly results from an ill-fitting mouthpiece tray rather than the tooth-bleaching agent. Both of these conditions usually are temporary and disappear within 1 to 3 days of stopping or completing treatment. Additionally, the use of carbamide peroxide mitigates these risks.

If you do experience sensitivity, you can reduce or eliminate it by:

  • Reducing the teeth whitening sessions into smaller intervals (for example, two 30-minute sessions versus two 60-minute sessions)

  • Use a high fluoride-containing remineralization pen to remineralize your teeth.

  • Brush your teeth with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes contain potassium nitrate, which helps soothe your teeth’s nerve endings.

Do teeth whiteners damage tooth enamel, the tooth’s nerve, or existing dental restorations?

Over 10 years of clinical use of whitening products containing 10% carbamide peroxide have not shown any damage to the enamel, nerves, or existing fillings. The issue is not "damage" to existing restorations; rather, keep in mind that existing restorations such as tooth-colored fillings, crowns, bonding, veneers, and bridges do not lighten. This means that any preexisting dental work may need to be replaced to match the new tooth shade achieved in the natural teeth, should a bleaching process proceed.