How to Maintain White Teeth After a Teeth Whitening Treatment

To achieve a whiter smile, many people resort to teeth whitening treatment—either via in-office or from the comfort of their homes. It may not entirely change the color of the teeth but it can whiten the teeth by three to eight shades, whether the cause of teeth discoloration is foods, drinks, smoking, antibiotics, or tartar.

Professional teeth whitening is one of the most economical cosmetic dentistry procedures that use professional bleaching to lighten the teeth in just one session without removing any of the tooth surface called enamel. The bleaching product usually contains active ingredients like hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, which allows oxygen into the enamel of the teeth when broken down, making the tooth color lighter.

After a successful teeth whitening treatment, you will want to maintain the current whiteness of your teeth. Various types of teeth whitening procedures are not permanent, but there are simple post-whitening tips you can do at home to keep your white teeth for a longer period of time. In fact, many dentists recommend a combination of in-office and at-home whitening solutions.

Teeth whitening treatment after-care tips

The tooth’s acquired pellicle, a layer designed to protect the tooth’s sensitive parts, is the area where stains emerge. During a teeth whitening or dental cleaning procedure, this layer is temporarily removed and it takes at least 24 hours for it to regenerate. Thus, the first 48 hours following the treatment are crucial in maintaining your white teeth.

Your dentist will advise you to strictly avoid eating foods that may cause tooth discoloration. These commonly include:

  • Coffee and tea – These brews can stain the teeth. They contain a compound called tannin, which causes color compounds to stick to the teeth. Once these compounds stick, they can leave an undesirable yellow color behind.

Instead of drinking them in the morning, you can try warm plain milk, or if you really cannot avoid taking coffee or tea, use a straw to avoid it on your teeth.

  • Dark-colored sauces – Examples of these are soy sauce, red pasta sauce, and barbecue sauce. The dark pigment in these foods can penetrate the pores in your enamel and stay attached there. If your teeth have high porosity, the stains will be even more persistent.

White or light-colored foods and sauces like white cheese, white pasta, white rice, peeled potatoes, white meat, and cauliflower are more advisable to avoid stains on the teeth.

  • Avoid dark chocolate – Just like coffee and tea, dark chocolates contain the color compound tannin which is known for leaving stains on the teeth.
  • Acidic foods – Common acidic foods such as lemons, oranges, and fruit juices can weaken the enamel. In a 2018 research, 100% of fruit juices are found to contribute to enamel softening and dental caries.

For more information on teeth stains, read Everything You Need to Know About Teeth Stains.

Aside from staining, the teeth are also extremely sensitive to hot and cold sensations and are vulnerable to decay during this period because of the exposure of the soft dentin layer that contains nerves. Thus, consuming dark-colored and acidic foods not only wastes the effects of the whitening procedure but could also cause long-term damage to your teeth.

After the 48-hour period, you should still continue avoiding such types of foods. Instead, shift to foods with lighter color like apples, bananas, carrots, celery, and green beans. Due to their high amount of calcium, dairy products are also a good option because they help strengthen teeth and reduce tooth decay. If you cannot avoid eating dark-colored foods, make sure to immediately rinse your mouth and brush your teeth. Chewing some sugar-free gums within 20 minutes at the end of your meal is also helpful in avoiding stains.

In addition, you can do several other practices to keep your teeth white in the long term.

  • Quit smoking

Regular use of tobacco, no matter how much you smoke per day, can turn your teeth into yellowish or brownish ones. It is the nicotine and tar in tobacco that causes stain on the teeth. One way to improve your teeth’s appearance is to brush your teeth several times a day. However, if you totally want to avoid discoloration on your teeth due to tobacco, quitting smoking is the best option. Aside from this, it can also improve your general health and prevent many types of diseases.

  • Floss your teeth

Flossing your teeth does not just avoid tooth decay but also aids in making your teeth appear whiter. Flossing once a day ensures that all the food particles between your teeth are removed. When not removed, debris can accumulate along your gums and between your teeth, eventually leading to plaque build-up. The plaque layer attracts the colored components of foods and drinks that cause stains.

  • Brush your teeth regularly

Regular brushing helps remove the stain-causing compounds from the food you eat and the plaque layer on your teeth. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day after meals.

For best results, ask your dentist for the right type of toothbrush for you. Depending on the structure and formation of your teeth, you might need a specific type of toothbrush that can reach out to every corner of your teeth that needs cleaning.

  • Consider using a whitening toothpaste

Along with your brushing routine, it will be more effective to use a whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpastes contain special abrasives that gently polish the surface of the teeth. They also have ingredients like peroxide and other chemicals that help dissolve or break down stain-causing compounds.

Although they help whiten teeth after two to six weeks of use, whitening toothpastes only remove surface stains, such as those caused by coffee or cigarettes. They cannot also change the natural color of the teeth or remove stains beyond the tooth’s surface.

  • Maintain your checkups

Having a successful teeth whitening procedure and religiously following aftercare tips does not mean you can abandon dental checkups. It is rather one of the effective ways to keep your teeth white. Your dentist should be able to track your progress and inform you if other treatments are necessary for overall dental health care.