What Teeth Whitening Can and Can’t Do (2024)

One of the common misconceptions about professional teeth whitening is that it works on all teeth, regardless of the type or cause of the discoloration. Although teeth whitening is safe and effective for certain types of stains, it will not work in every situation.

Take a moment to learn from Dr. Gordon Bell, of The Center for Dental Excellence, what teeth whitening can and cannot treat.

What Teeth Whitening Can Treat

Discoloration from consuming certain foods or beverages

Regularly consuming coffee, tea, wine, tomato sauce, berries or balsamic vinegar can stain the surface of the teeth (i.e., enamel). These stains are known as extrinsic stains. Teeth whitening treatment uses special bleaching agents to break up extrinsic stains and give the teeth a lighter and brighter appearance.

Some discoloration caused by smoking

Yellowing of the teeth caused by the tar and nicotine in tobacco can usually be improved with teeth whitening treatment. However, if the teeth turn gray or brown from smoking, it is less likely they will be noticeably whitened with teeth whitening treatment.

What Teeth Whitening Can’t Treat

Teeth that have yellowed with age

As we age, the enamel becomes thinner due to wear and tear, revealing the underlying layer of tooth structure called dentin. Dentin is naturally yellowish and cannot be lightened with teeth whitening products.

Stains caused by taking antibiotics

If you have stains due to taking antibiotics as a child, teeth whitening will not improve the look of the stains. These types of stains are known as intrinsic stains, or stains that affect the deeper layers of the tooth (i.e., the dentin).

Stains caused by trauma to the tooth

Another common type of intrinsic stains that teeth whitening cannot treat are those caused by trauma to the tooth.

Crowns, veneers or other restorations

Teeth whitening will not change the color of crowns, veneers, bridges or other dental work. If you want to lighten your teeth and existing restorations, Dr. Bell will probably need to replace the dental work and match it to your teeth after they have been whitened.

Contact The Center for Dental Excellence

To learn more about how teeth whitening works and whether it could benefit your smile, contact The Center for Dental Excellence. Please call (888) 906-2343 or send us an email today.

What Teeth Whitening Can and Can’t Do (2024)


What Teeth Whitening Can and Can’t Do? ›

Yellowing of the teeth caused by the tar and nicotine in tobacco can usually be improved with teeth whitening treatment. However, if the teeth turn gray or brown from smoking, it is less likely they will be noticeably whitened with teeth whitening treatment.

What type of teeth cannot be whitened? ›

If you have a lot of fillings, dental bonding or crowns, you may not be a candidate for dental whitening. This is because restorations will not respond to whitening, and a whitening treatment could result in a very uneven appearance.

What disqualifies you from teeth whitening? ›

Results are usually dramatic and, with touch-ups at home, last indefinitely. People with healthy teeth and gums are typically good candidates for teeth whitening. Gum disease, multiple restorations, and extensive decay disqualify individuals from this cosmetic procedure.

What are the don'ts after teeth whitening? ›

Particularly in the 48 hours after your teeth whitening procedure, avoid anything acid-based, including soda, pickles and citrus fruits like orange and lemon. Also steer clear of foods that easily create stains: Coffee. Red white.

What makes you ineligible for teeth whitening? ›

Not everyone is the right candidate for teeth whitening. For example, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should wait to get whitening. People who have dental bridges or crowns may want to talk to their dentist before considering whitening. Children should be at least 16 to get this type of treatment.

When can teeth not be whitened? ›

Gum disease, worn enamel, cavities, and exposed roots.

This is because the whitening solutions penetrate into any existing decay and the inner areas of the tooth, which can cause sensitivity. Also, whitening procedures will not work on exposed tooth roots, because roots do not have an enamel layer.

Why do dentists not recommend teeth whitening? ›

Tooth and gum sensitivity and pain

Store-bought products may contain abrasive substances like hydrogen peroxide, which can be effective if used minimally, but in large doses can cause erosion of teeth's enamel and shrinkage of the gums.

Who isn't suitable for teeth whitening? ›

Your dentist will advise you whether whitening is right for you. It may be that teeth whitening isn't suitable, for example if you have gum disease or crowns.

Who is not a good candidate for teeth whitening? ›

Those who are suffering from periodontal disease, oral cancer, or who have enamel that is excessively worn down to not make good candidates for teeth whitening either. Most other patients should not have a problem.

Why is it not good to whiten your teeth? ›

However, teeth whitening treatments can cause damage to the enamel if not done correctly or overused. Enamel damage can lead to increased sensitivity, pain, and white spots on your teeth. It's essential to consult with a dentist before using any teeth whitening products to ensure they're safe for your teeth.

Why do 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.

Why can't you drink water after teeth whitening? ›

After you whiten your teeth with Philips Sonicare teeth whitening products, acidic or staining foods and drinks are more easily absorbed by your teeth. This can lead to discoloration, and this why it is advised to wait 30 minutes after whitening before eating or drinking.

How long are teeth pores open after whitening? ›

Once the pores close, which usually happens within 24-48 hours after the procedure, you can resume your normal habits.

Who should avoid teeth whitening? ›

Barriers to Successful Teeth Whitening If you have fillings or other materials in your mouth, special considerations are necessary. Because crowns, bridges and other inorganic restorations are immune to the effects of tooth whitening, your natural teeth and restored teeth may not match after the procedure.

What is the most effective teeth whitening method? ›

laser teeth whitening is the safest, quickest, and most effective option among the types of teeth-whitening treatments available. However, there are ultimately several ways to whiten teeth, and the most suitable option will depend on your timeline, budget, and priorities, as well as the nature of the discoloration.

Who is not a candidate for teeth whitening? ›

Whitening is not recommended for people who experience chronic sensitivity, periodontal disease, oral cancer, or excessively worn and damaged enamel. Teeth that appear translucent may worsen with each whitening application and should be discontinued upon notice.

Do some teeth not respond to whitening? ›

The fact is, not all teeth respond to whitening. Furthermore, it is important to understand what whitening products you use can really make all the difference. Let's consider certain things that might keep your teeth whitening treatment from working.

Can badly stained teeth be whitened? ›

For more stubborn stains, you may need at-home or professional whitening to remove brown stains. For plaque or tartar, you'll likely need to schedule a dental cleaning to remove the brown stains. And if you have tooth decay and cavities, these will need to be treated by your dentist.


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