Teeth Whitening: How Long Can It Take?

One of the simplest ways to revitalize the look of your smile and even take years off of your appearance is to whiten your teeth. Over time, your tooth enamel can become stained and discolored for a variety of reasons including consuming highly pigmented foods and beverages, smoking, using tobacco, and even as a result of certain medications and aging. However, you don’t have to live with a dull or stained smile; there are a variety of cosmetic dentistry treatments, including teeth whitening, designed to improve the color and brightness of your smile to help you achieve your desired look.

Dental patient getting her teeth whitened professionally

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Take?

There are several factors that affect the amount of time it takes to whiten a patient’s teeth. These factors include the current shade of the patient’s teeth or severity of stains and other discoloration, how bright the desired shade is, and the degree of difference between the patient’s starting point and desired results. Of course, the greater the difference, the greater the time it will take to achieve the patient’s desired level of whitening. Additionally, the type of teeth whitening process used to whiten the teeth affects the time needed to achieve the desired brightness.

In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening performed in a dentist’s office under a dental professional’s supervision offers the strongest bleaching effect available. As a result, this is generally considered to be the fastest method of teeth whitening. That being said, in-office professional whitening treatments can still take a significant amount of time, depending on the current color of the patient’s teeth and the severity of stains that are present. If, however, the desired change in tooth color is minor, a patient might achieve their desired look in a single whitening session.

Typically, an in-office professional teeth whitening session lasts about 90 minutes. To achieve the desired results, a patient might need to schedule several appointments, whitening their teeth over the course of many 90-minute sessions with periods of remineralization in between.

Professional Teeth Whitening at Home

Professional teeth whitening treatments performed at home work almost as quickly as in-office treatments, but you can do them at your convenience in the comfort of your own home.

These treatments use a professional strength bleaching agent similar to the agent used during in-office treatments. The difference is that, for the safety of your teeth and gums, each whitening session is broken up over the course of days with custom-designed and fitted whitening trays being worn for about 5 minutes (or another length of time recommended by our dentist) each day for a week or two until you achieve your desired whiter and brighter results.

Teeth Whitening With Over-the-Counter Products

There are a variety of teeth whitening products available to purchase over-the-counter such as whitening strips, pens, powders, gels, lights, trays, toothpaste, mouthwash, and more. None of these are as safe for your tooth enamel and gums or as effective as professional teeth whitening treatments performed in a dentist’s office or at home.

American Dental Association-approved whitening toothpaste and other oral care products that contain whitening agents or abrasives can be safely used to whiten your teeth. The results are achieved very slowly and gradually, and these products typically are not very effective for eliminating significant stains or discoloration from a patient’s tooth enamel.

However, we highly recommend using at-home teeth whitening products, such as a whitening toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association, to prevent new stains or discoloration from taking hold on your teeth after a professional whitening treatment. The use of these over-the-counter products can help preserve your whiter and brighter smile by preventing stains and discoloration from forming and lengthening the amount of time before you need a professional teeth whitening maintenance session.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

The length of time your whiter, bright smile will stay that way depends largely on your lifestyle, diet, and the at-home oral care products you use. As stated above, using toothpaste or alcohol-free mouthwash formulated for teeth whitening can help prolong your teeth whitening results.

To lengthen the lifespan of your white, bright smile, you should also refrain from smoking or using tobacco of any kind. Additionally, try to avoid consuming highly pigmented foods and beverages that can stain your teeth. These include things like coffee, tea, highly pigmented soft drinks, red wine, berries, and chocolate. If you do enjoy any of these foods or drinks, rinsing your mouth out with water immediately after can help to wash away some of the pigments that could discolor your teeth.

Typically, following a professional teeth whitening, patients return to us once or twice a year (depending on their lifestyle) for a maintenance whitening treatment. Of course, maintenance treatments that are performed regularly help to keep your smile white and bright without nearly as many whitening sessions as were likely required to achieve your desired results the first time.

Professional Teeth Whitening in the Comfort of Your Own Home With Smiles at the Exchange

At Smiles at the Exchange, we provide our patients with professional teeth whitening at home using custom-designed trays (also called splints) and a professional-grade teeth whitening agent. We strongly encourage patients who would like to brighten their smiles to talk with one of our dentists first. We can help you determine the most appropriate course of whitening treatment or cosmetic service to eliminate stains and discoloration, vastly improving the color and brightness of your smile.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact our dental office in Dayton today.

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