How long does teeth whitening last? And which method works the best?
You’re out with your friends, having a great time. You’re laughing, you’re joking, you’re enjoying the moment. And then someone points out that your teeth are yellow. All of a sudden, your good time is gone. You’re now self-conscious, feeling embarrassed, and like everyone is judging you.
But you don’t have to be because you’re not alone.
Nearly 40% of American adults have yellow teeth, and many turn to teeth whitening to brighten their smiles. After all, having white teeth is a great way to boost your confidence and feel more comfortable in social situations.
Learn more about yellow teeth by reading one of our popular articles: Top 10 Things You Should Know About Yellow Teeth
Factors That Influence How Long Teeth Whitening Lasts
If you’ve ever wondered how long your results will last, you’re not alone. I get this question all the time at our dental office. And while I wish I could give you a straight answer, there are actually a few factors that can influence how long your pearly whites will stay shining.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Stains
Keep in mind that the degree and type of tooth discoloration or stain you have matters. There are two types of tooth stains:
Intrinsic Stains (internal) are those that develop on the inside of teeth, often as a result of taking certain medications (like tetracycline) or due to trauma (such as a tooth that’s been knocked out and not replaced). Because these stains are on the inside of teeth, they’re more difficult to treat and usually require professional teeth whitening.
Extrinsic Stains (external), on the other hand, develop on the surface of teeth. These types of stains are generally caused by habits like drinking coffee, tea, or red wine; smoking cigarettes; or eating foods with lots of colorants e.g. turmeric, soy sauce, and dark chocolate. Because they’re on the surface of teeth, extrinsic stains are easier to treat.
Some of these you may be able to control, but others you may not be able to do much about. Here are some things that will determine how long your teeth stay pearly white.
1. The Type of Teeth Whitening Method You Use
If you opt for an at-home teeth whitening kit, you can generally expect your results to last for about four to six months with touch-ups as needed. However, if you choose to get your teeth professionally whitened at the dentist’s office, your results could last up to a year or even longer with proper care.
2. The Type of Food and Drink You Consume
If you enjoy drinking dark-colored liquids like coffee, tea, or red wine on a regular basis, it’s likely that your teeth will start to yellow again sooner than someone who doesn’t. The same goes for foods that are very colorful or acidic like berries, or tomato sauce.
While you obviously can’t avoid these things altogether (and we wouldn’t want you to!), it’s important to be mindful of how often you’re consuming them if you want your teeth whitening results to last.
3. The Natural Color of Your Teeth
Believe it or not, the natural color of your teeth can also play a role in how long results last.
People with teeth that are more yellow in color will probably see the biggest transformation after getting their teeth professionally whitened because they have more staining, to begin with. However, people with naturally whiter teeth may require fewer touch-ups.
4. Your Age
Unfortunately, as we get older our teeth tend to get more yellow. This is because the top layer of our teeth or the enamel starts to thin out, exposing the dentin (which is a yellowish color) underneath.
If you are over the age of 30, you can expect your teeth whitening to not last as long as someone who is in their 20s.
5. How Well You Take Care of Your Teeth After Whitening
Proper oral hygiene is important for maintaining not only your overall dental health but also the look of your smile.
Do you smoke or use tobacco products? You may need to have your teeth professionally whitened more often to maintain results as smoking can cause teeth to yellow prematurely.
Also, you may hear this all the time from your dentist, but it’s here’s some age-old advice: be sure to brush twice a day, floss regularly, and use alcohol-free mouthwash to help keep your smile bright and sparkling!
Teeth Whitening Tip: At Blyss Dental, I recommend getting at-home touch-ups every 6 months to a year. This will help to keep your smile looking its best!
Types of Teeth Whitening Methods
The type of teeth whitening method you use will have the biggest impact on how long your teeth stay white. Here are some common teeth whitening methods and how long they typically last:
There are many reasons why you might want to whiten your teeth. Maybe you’re getting married and want to look your best for the big day. Or maybe you just feel like your teeth could use a little pick-me-up. Whatever the reason, there are many different ways to whiten your teeth.
The type of teeth whitening method you use will have the biggest impact on how long your teeth stay white. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of teeth whitening methods and how long they typically last.
Teeth Whitening at Home
Achieving whiter teeth has never been easier—or more affordable—than it is today. Though they may not last as long as a professional teeth whitening treatment, at-home treatments are still a go-to option to address superficial level teeth stains.
1. Home Remedies
Some people prefer to use home remedies instead of over-the-counter or professional products. They are more natural and often less expensive as well.
You’ve probably seen videos splattered across YouTube or TikTok of people recommending baking soda or swishing natural oils to whiten their teeth.
Many even swear by them to lighten their teeth a shade or two.
But the truth is, teeth are not designed to be brushed with harsh chemicals like baking soda. While it may be effective to some extent, its abrasive properties can also damage your tooth enamel and lead to other dental problems.
Swishing coconut oil, avocado oil, or sesame oil may not exactly have a significant teeth whitening effect. However, their natural antimicrobial action improves the health and appearance of the gums which makes your teeth look naturally bright.
2. Over-the-counter Whitening Products
These products usually contain lower concentrations of bleaching agents than professional teeth whitening treatments. As a result, they may take longer to produce results.
OTC teeth whitening products typically use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent. Studies have shown that hydrogen peroxide is more effective at teeth whitening than carbamide peroxide. However, it can also be more damaging to your teeth and gums if not used properly.
Results can vary depending on the product, but they usually only last for a few months.
a. Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening toothpaste uses mild abrasives and chemicals to remove surface stains from teeth.
The abrasives work like sandpaper to scrub away stains while the chemicals react with the stain molecules to break them up. This means it doesn’t actually change the color of your teeth as bleaching products do.
While whitening toothpaste can definitely make your teeth look brighter in the short term, its long-term effectiveness is still questionable.
Studies have shown that whitening toothpaste can remove surface stains from teeth. However, they don’t do much to change the actual color of your teeth or lighten deep stains.
b. Whitening Rinses
Whitening rinses contain hydrogen peroxide, which helps to loosen and remove stains from your teeth. Most whitening rinses require you to rinse your mouth twice a day every day for 60 seconds per rinse.
However, according to a study on the efficacy of whitening rinses, whitening rinses may not whiten teeth substantially due to the method of application and the length of time it is in contact with the teeth.
c. Whitening Strips
Whitening strips are thin, flexible plastic strips that are coated with hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. When you apply the strips to your teeth, the bleaching agents are able to penetrate your enamel and remove stains and discoloration.
Most over-the-counter whitening strips contain between 3% and 6% hydrogen peroxide, while professional-grade whitening strips can contain up to 10% which means that using the latter will obviously show better results than the former.
According to Gennaro Cataldo, a Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine professor of general dentistry, most people see noticeable results after two or three months.
The results are temporary and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on your diet and oral hygiene habits.
d. Whitening Pens
Teeth whitening pens contain a peroxide-based gel that is applied directly to the teeth with a brush tip applicator.
Pens are easy to use and can be carried with you for touch-ups throughout the day. But keep in mind that it is best used as a quick fix as opposed to the ultimate whitening solution-a professional teeth whitening.
The results are short-lived and it’s not a sustainable option for long-term results.
e. DIY Whitening Tray Kits
These kits come with custom or prefabricated trays and teeth whitening gel. These are usually available to buy online or may also be available in your local drugstore.
You place the gel in the tray, which is then placed on your teeth for 20 minutes to an hour at a time depending on the instructions in the manual.
The concentration of the whitening gel is much lower than professional whitening gels used in dental offices. This means lower-level whitening results that will take longer to achieve.
The amount of time it takes to see results varies depending on the person. You can usually expect to see a difference after two or three weeks of regular use.
Teeth Whitening Tip: Before using any over-the-counter teeth whitening product, talk with your dentist and check to see if the product has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This means that the product has been evaluated for safety and efficacy by the ADA.
Professional Teeth Whitening
We’ve learned that at-home treatments may not last as long as we want them to and results may take more effort and time. So, if you want instant pearly whites that will last longer and with minimal effort, professional teeth whitening is the way to go!
Here is a run-down of the different types of professional teeth whitening treatments, and how long you can expect the results to last.
1. Dental Chairside or In-Office Bleaching
This is a teeth whitening treatment whereby your dentist uses a bleaching agent to whiten your teeth in a single visit. The big advantage of this method over at-home bleaching kits is that the dentist can monitor the process and make sure that your gums and other tissues are protected from the bleach.
Teeth Whitening Tip: At Blyss Dental, I apply a teeth desensitizer that helps reduce teeth sensitivity caused by whitening treatments. Plus, the whitening agent that we use has 30% hydrogen peroxide which makes it more effective compared to the 6% hydrogen peroxide found in over-the-counter products.
The results of dental chairside or in-office bleaching are long-lasting but not permanent. With proper care, your brighter smile can last for 1-3 years.
As you consume staining foods and drinks—think coffee, tea, red wine, and cigarettes—your teeth will eventually become stained again. However, you can touch up your teeth with additional bleaching treatments as needed.
2. At-Home Teeth Whitening with Professional Supervision
It is a treatment where patients are given a teeth whitening kit to use at home under the guidance of their dentist.
Patients are provided with custom-fitted trays taken from the impressions of their teeth. The resulting mold is then used for making the custom teeth whitening trays. The dentist will then place a bleaching solution inside after the trays are made.
At Blyss Dental, we use a digital scanner making it a more comfortable experience for you.
You may have to wear the trays overnight for 7 to 15 days. You should expect to see a positive and noticeable change within the two-week timeframe. The results may last for at least one year or longer.
This is one of the best teeth whitening options in San Diego nowadays. The process is simple and convenient, not to mention comfortable as you can wear them at your preferred time of the day without having to schedule a visit to the dentist’s office.
3. KöR Teeth Whitening System
This system uses a specific peroxide formulation with a high percentage of free radicals to penetrate the teeth and bleach discolored enamel. What makes KöR’s formula so useful are the specialized trays and formula which prevent saliva from mixing with the whitening gel.
Saliva contains an enzyme called peroxidase, which acts as an antioxidant to neutralize peroxide and make it less potent. KöR’s design and formulation prevent this from happening so that the whitening treatment is successful.
KöR Teeth Whitening System starts by making molds of your teeth to have your customized, ultra-comfortable KöR-Seal whitening trays fabricated.
During a follow-up appointment, you will receive your custom-made teeth whitening trays, KöR whitening gel, a desensitizing gel, and instructions on how to use your KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching System. You will have to wear your KöR-Seal Trays at home for two weeks during nighttime.
Two weeks after your at-home teeth bleaching, you will need to come back to our office for an in-office whitening session. The length of this session will be one to two hours.
Once you achieve the desired results, we recommend periodic at-home maintenance to help keep your teeth permanently white and bright. That may involve wearing your custom KöR-Seal Trays one night each month.
These results are clinically shown to lighten teeth by up to 16 shades or more. Typically, you will begin to see results some weeks after the procedure. And depending on how you care for your teeth, the result can last as long as six months to three years after the procedure.
Teeth Whitening Tip: The results from the procedure and its duration vary from one person to another. The more you consistently practice good oral hygiene, the longer the results of your treatment last.
4. Laser Teeth Whitening
This process uses a pen-like or pocket-size laser to activate a concentrated tooth whitening gel applied to your teeth with a rubber guard and gum protective barrier already in place).
The laser activates and coaxes certain oxygen-rich molecules from the gel. These oxygen-rich molecules target and break down stain molecules, lightening the teeth’s shade and color.
The treatment usually lasts for 30-60 minutes. After the treatment, you may see noticeable results, especially when compared to DIY whitening products at home; however, the full effects of the treatment will typically become visible 2-3 days after the procedure is done.
Teeth Whitening Tip: If you’re looking for professional, reliable teeth whitening in San Diego, then laser teeth whitening is the best option available. This is my go-to method and the one that I always recommend. This is because it produces the best, most consistent, and most professional results that my clients love.
Your newly whitened teeth will be brighter and more beautiful for 6 months or longer (some people say 1+ years) – but that doesn’t mean you can forget about good oral hygiene habits altogether.
It is important to note that they are not permanent like all the other teeth whitening options available in the market. As I mentioned earlier, the longevity of the results also depends on how you take care of your teeth.
Learn more about the best teeth whitening in San Diego including the pros and cons of each treatment: Best Teeth Whitening Options in San Diego: What You Should Know
What if my teeth start to yellow again after a few months?
A few months ago, you spent the big bucks to get your teeth professionally whitened. And for a while, things were great—you felt confident and proud every time you flashed your smile. But lately, you’ve noticed that your teeth aren’t looking so hot anymore. In fact, they seem to be yellowing again.
So what gives? Is it time to invest in another round of teeth whitening? The short answer is: maybe not.
There are a few different reasons why your teeth might start to yellow again after being professionally whitened. It is not necessarily because the teeth whitening treatment didn’t work.
First off, it’s important to keep in mind that professional teeth whitening is not permanent. Your teeth will eventually start to yellow again as new stains and discoloration develop over time.
In addition, certain foods and drinks (think coffee, tea, and red wine) can cause your teeth to stain more easily. If you’re someone who enjoys these beverages on a regular basis, you might notice that your teeth start to yellow more quickly than someone who doesn’t drink them as often.
Smoking is also a major culprit when it comes to tooth staining—so if you can’t kick the habit, you might want to consider getting your teeth professionally whitened more often.
If you want to touch up your teeth in between dental visits, there are at-home teeth whitening kits that you can use. These are not as strong as the ones used in professional teeth whitening treatments, but they can help to brighten your teeth and maintain your results.
Teeth Whitening Tip: Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings at Blyss Dental so you can keep an eye on your teeth and make sure they stay healthy and beautiful.
Get Professional Teeth Whitening at Blyss Dental
In general, in-office teeth whitening produces longer-lasting results than at-home treatments. This is because in-office treatments use stronger bleaching agents than what’s available over the counter.
Professional gels have 3 times the amount of hydrogen peroxide that whitens the teeth when compared to at-home or DIY bleaching gels. Further, in-office treatments are generally safer because it’s under the close supervision of your dentist.
To achieve long-lasting results from your teeth whitening treatment, I recommend getting an in-office treatment from trained dental professionals—like our team at Blyss Dental.
We offer professional teeth whitening treatments that can help to brighten your teeth and give you the confidence you need to show off your smile.
Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more about our teeth whitening services and how we can help you achieve the beautiful, white teeth you’ve always wanted.
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- Boston University. (2019, June 25). The Truth about Teeth Whiteners | BU Today. https://www.bu.edu/
- de Freitas, M. R., de Carvalho, M. M., Liporoni, P. C., Fort, A. C., Moura, R. D., & Zanatta, R. F. (2021). Effectiveness and Adverse Effects of Over-the-Counter Whitening Products on Dental Tissues. Frontiers in Dental Medicine. https://doi.org/10.3389/
- Li, Y. (2017). Stain removal and whitening by baking soda dentifrice. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 148(11), S20–S26. https://doi.org/