How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last? Duration, Side Effects, and More (2024)

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last? Duration, Side Effects, and More (1)Share on Pinterest

Everyone loves a bright, white smile, but most people don’t have the brilliant teeth made popular by Hollywood.

At-home whitening products such as strips and gels, or dental office procedures, such as chairside bleaching, are some of the ways people brighten teeth and reduce surface stains.

No matter what type of tooth whitening process you use, it won’t last forever. At-home products may give minimal-to-great results that last for a few months. Professional dental procedures may extend that time up to 2-3 years.

Read on to learn the effects of whitening procedures and products to consider. We’ll also let you know how long you can expect them to last and what you can do to prolong tooth whitening.

The length of time you can expect tooth whitening to last is based upon the type of whitener you’re using. Your lifestyle habits also have an effect.

Tooth whitening treatments are designed to reduce stains, not repel them. If you have good oral habits and keep your teeth clean, at-home products and dental procedures will last longer.

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 (internal): caused by aging, trauma, infection, and medication. These deep, internal stains are harder to eliminate but can be removed, given the right type of treatment.
  • extrinsic (external): caused by food, cigarette smoke, and drink. Most whiteners only work on extrinsic stains.

Here are some of the most popular whitening treatments and how long they last.

Whitening toothpaste

If you use a whitening toothpaste twice daily, it may take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks before you see any results. Users say these results can last for up to 3 or 4 months.

Whitening toothpaste can be used every day or several times a week. They contain ingredients that polish or whiten teeth, such as:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • carbamide peroxide
  • mild abrasives

Toothpastes that only contain abrasives tackle surface stains and can’t change the internal color of teeth. Those that contain peroxide can whiten teeth and remove stains to varying degrees.

You may be able to prolong these effects if you continue to use whitening toothpaste. But some people are sensitive to the ingredients and find that their gums or teeth become uncomfortable with prolonged use. Many toothpastes containing abrasives are also not meant for long-term use.

Long-term use of whitening toothpaste may thin tooth enamel. If you plan to use whitening toothpaste long term, try alternating with a toothpaste designed to protect and strengthen enamel.

Whitening mouthwash

It may take up to 3 months before you see any effect from a whitening mouthwash.

Whitening mouthwashes usually contain hydrogen peroxide. You can use a whitening mouthwash daily, to help remove small degrees of surface staining.

Whitening mouthwash may be most effective when used to prolong the effect of other treatments, such as in-office whitening or whitening strips. When used alone, its effects are not dramatic, or long-lasting.

Whitening strips

Whitening strips vary in the number of treatments needed before you see results. Some strips provide superior results, which can last for up to 6 months.

Whitening strips are one of the most effective over-the-counter treatments for whitening teeth at home. Some brands are easier to use and more effective than others. Some use LED accelerator lights to provide more intense stain removal.

Whitening strips use peroxide to bleach teeth and remove stains. When used incorrectly or too often, they may be uncomfortable or harmful to teeth.

When used correctly, high-quality brands of whitening strips can remove both extrinsic and mild intrinsic stains, by bleaching teeth to make them whiter in color.

Whitening pens

Whitening pens take from 2 days up to a week. They provide minimal results that are usually not long-lasting.

Whitening pens are small, plastic tubes containing whitening gel that are transportable and used for spot stain removal. The gel washes away easily, so you can’t eat, drink, or rinse your teeth for about an hour after application.

At-home whitening gel trays

You should start seeing results from a whitening gel tray in about a week, with maximum results seen in 2 to 4 weeks’ time. The amount of whitening you see will vary based on the strength of the peroxide used and length of time worn.

When combined with proper oral hygiene, at-home, dentist-supervised whitening gel trays should give you long lasting results of a year or longer.

Your dentist can fit your mouth for a custom-made tray that you fill with gel whitener at home. The whitener supplied by your dentist is stronger than the type used in over-the-counter products.

Your dentist will supervise this treatment and guide you as to how long and how often you should use it. In some instances, you may need to keep the tray on your teeth for several hours or overnight daily, for a week or longer.

Chairside bleaching (in-office tooth whitening)

If you maintain good oral hygiene, a chairside (or in-office) procedure should provide long-lasting results for 1 to 3 years.

This procedure is done in your dentist’s office. It usually requires only one visit.

This procedure uses a strong bleaching agent, such as highly-concentrated hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Heat or light may also be used, to further accelerate the bleaching agent.

The active ingredients in tooth whiteners can cause sensitivity to occur in teeth and gums. This is typically not long lasting. Some people find that long-term use of any whitener with peroxide or abrasives is uncomfortable.

There is also the potential for more serious side effects, including:

  • Gum burns and irritation: This is more likely to occur from at-home gel tray use or chairside whitening, but can be avoided by covering the gums completely prior to treatment and using custom fitted trays. If they do occur, gum burns and irritations are usually mild and temporary.
  • Gum whitening: The gums may become bleached, losing their color for a short period of time.
  • Gastrointestinal irritation or distress: If you swallow a whitening product, you may feel a burning sensation in your throat or a mild stomach ache.
  • Damage to tooth enamel or dentin: Research on this is inconclusive. Surface grooves on teeth and thinning enamel may occur from any type of whitener that uses strong bleaching solutions or abrasives.

Some users report tooth pain during or after whitening. If you experience pain, burning, or extreme sensitivity, call your dentist.

In some instances, the whitener may get into a cavity or cracked tooth, causing significant pain and a necessary dentist visit.

Why are my teeth discolored?

Teeth can become yellow or gray over time due to many factors:

  • what you eat and drink
  • smoking cigarettes or vaping
  • age and heredity factors
  • medications like tetracycline can cause deep stains if taken in childhood when permanent teeth are forming
  • trauma or infection can cause teeth to turn yellow, bluish, or gray

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Keeping teeth clean and flossed will not only help to prevent cavities and gingivitis but also help keep teeth their whitest.

  • Brush at least twice a day, especially after meals.
  • Brush after a meal if you eat or drink things that stain teeth, unless you eat or drink something acidic, then it is better to wait 30 minutes.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or rinse with water after eating.
  • Add a whitening toothpaste or rinse to your regular dental routine between whitening treatments.

What you eat and drink can stain your teeth, particularly if you don’t brush regularly. Some common offenders are:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • red wine
  • grape juice
  • cola

If you enjoy these regularly, make sure to brush, floss, and rinse often.

Chewing on sugar-free gum, parsley, or mint can also help clean your mouth by stimulating the flow of saliva.

There is a wide range of at-home and in-office tooth whitening products and procedures.

At-home treatments such as whitening toothpaste, rinses, and pens do not last very long, but may help to prolong the benefits of other, more effective whitening treatments.

White strips are the most effective over-the-counter whitening treatment you can use without a dentist’s supervision.

At-home gel trays that are customized to fit your mouth by your dentist and chairside whitening provide the longest-lasting whitening.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last? Duration, Side Effects, and More (2024)


How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last? Duration, Side Effects, and More? ›

The effects of teeth whitening can last up to 2-3 years or as little as 6 months. It varies from person to person. Things that will stain your teeth quickly and make your whitening short-lived include: – Smoking.

Does teeth whitening have long-term effects? ›

Risks of teeth whitening

One of the most common side effects is tooth sensitivity, which can occur during or after treatment. Overuse or misuse of teeth whitening products can also lead to enamel damage, gum irritation, and discoloration.

How long do the effects of teeth whitening kits last? ›

Is teeth whitening permanent? Teeth whitening isn't permanent. It can last from a few months to up to 3 years – it varies from person to person. The whitening effect won't last as long if you smoke or drink red wine, tea or coffee, which can all stain your teeth.

What is the duration of teeth whitening treatment? ›

When it comes to teeth whitening, it is essential to understand that the amount of whitening necessary depends on the amount of stain on the teeth. Professional teeth whitening treatment typically takes three to four weeks.

Do teeth become weak after whitening? ›

Teeth are thought to become more sensitive after whitening because the whitener weakens the teeth slightly, exposing “dentinal microtubules” that connect the outside of the tooth to the nerves inside.

What can go wrong with teeth whitening? ›

Soft Tissue Irritation

Prolonged exposure to teeth whitening gels or solution on the gum tissue also may result in the inflammation and redness of the areas affected by the whitening solution. In extreme cases of soft tissue irritation from whitening solution, bleeding and pain in the gum tissue may occur.

How long does teeth whitening stay in your system? ›

The effects of teeth whitening can last up to 2-3 years or as little as six months, and it varies from person to person. It won't last as long if you indulge in things that stain your teeth, such as: Smoking. Dark liquids like red wine, coffee, and tea.

When should you stop teeth whitening? ›

Your teeth will get progressively brighter, the longer you do it. I normally tell patient to stop once they are happy with the colour. You will not suddenly wake up in the morning looking like Simon Cowell! If this is the look you want, simply carry on bleaching your teeth for longer.

How long after teeth whitening can I eat normally? ›

When the dentist whitens teeth, your teeth can become sensitive to different foods that can stain. After 24-72 hours, you can resume your regular diet. The following are the things that you need to avoid after teeth whitening. Sugary foods can irritate your teeth and trigger the bacteria responsible for causing decay.

Is teeth whitening worth it? ›

Teeth whitening products — whether an over-the-counter option you use at home or a professional treatment — can be effective and safe, if used correctly. “If you want a brighter smile, teeth whitening products can be good tools,” says Dr. Clemons. “But they aren't a substitute for good dental hygiene.”

How long do teeth pores stay open after whitening? ›

The pores slowly close over the next two to three days, but during that time, your teeth are more susceptible to staining from foods and drinks. For at least the first 48 hours, it's best to avoid darkly colored foods and drinks, including berries, coffee, tea, red wine, and tomato sauce.

Why do my teeth look more yellow after whitening? ›

Teeth can become temporarily dehydrated after using whitening strips. Your teeth may appear more yellow as a result of this dehydration because the enamel may become dry and lack moisture. Dehydrated enamel sometimes has a transparent appearance that makes the naturally yellowish dentin underneath visible.

When is the best time to whiten your teeth? ›

The pores in your teeth are slightly more open and can more easily allow stains in. Smile Brilliant and dentist professionals recommend whitening before bed as it reduces the opportunity for staining and gives your teeth the night to begin rehydrating and remineralizing.

What happens if you whiten your teeth too often? ›

While teeth whitening can be a great way to brighten your smile and increase your confidence, it is possible to overdo it. Risks associated with too much whitening include tooth and gum sensitivity, discoloration, and even enamel degradation.

Is getting your teeth whitened permanently? ›

Even though professional teeth whitening has incredible success rates, it does not offer permanent results. Your teeth will remain white for about 6 – 12 months before you need retreatment. The results last longer if you intentionally care for your teeth to maintain their whiteness and brightness.

How many times a year is it safe to whiten teeth? ›

We advise whitening your teeth just once a year, whether professionally or at home. This should keep sensitivity from becoming a problem while helping you maintain a white, natural-looking smile. Typically, the professional-grade whitening kits available from our dental office last about a year.

Can teeth whitening cause permanent sensitivity? ›

Teeth whitening by a professional does not lead to permanent sensitivity. You will start to experience perceptiveness during the process and for a short while after. The feeling is pronounced on the first day but improves significantly after that.


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