How Often Should You Whiten Your Teeth?

Recent surveys say that 99.7% of adults believe that a glistening smile is an important social asset. This is why teeth whitening remains one of the most economical ways to give you the smile you’ve always wanted.

There are plenty of ways to whiten your teeth, but the two most common ways are in-office treatments and at-home treatments with whitening toothpaste, strips, gels, and more. 

Each one of these treatments has different effects on the look of your teeth and some take longer than others. It’s important to remember that not all whiteners will correct certain types of discoloration and may actually damage your enamel. 

Even though there are multiple methods for teeth whitening and different recommendations, it’s suggested that you wait at least 6 months between every at-home whitening treatment and 1 year between each in-office treatment. 

How Often Should You Whiten Your Teeth At Home?

The length of time it takes to whiten your teeth and how often you should do it depends on the method of whitening you choose. 

There are more methods for whitening your teeth at home than you may think. One of the most popular methods is whitening trays. Whitening trays are like mouth guards that you fill with whitening gel or paste. 

Whitening Trays

When whitening trays daily , you can use whitening trays every day for up to three weeks as long as they have less of a concentrated bleaching agent. 

It can take about a week to see results depending on the level of whitening you desire, but the maximum results can be seen in 2 to 4 weeks. 

When you combine the trays with proper oral hygiene, the result of whitening gel trays can last up to a year or longer. 

Whitening Strips

You can find whitening strips in just about every drug store and retail store across the globe. Crest White Strips are one of the most effective over-the-counter treatments for at-home whitening. 

These strips contain peroxide and bleach to remove stains. If you use them too often, it can actually harm your teeth. 

Generally speaking when using whitening strips,  you should whiten your teeth every 6 months. However, some strips can be less effective, so you will need to use them more often.

Whitening Pens

We’re convinced that whitening pens are more for emergency or one-time use. They’re best for touching up your initial whitening process if your teeth start to turn colors and you need a pearly white smile in a pinch.

Whitening pens take from 2 days up to a week to show results and you can use them for 2 weeks at a time. The only issue with these pens is that the gel washes away quite easily, so you can’t eat, drink, or rinse your teeth for an hour after application. 

Whitening Mouthwash

Whitening mouthwash is probably the longest method for whitening your teeth. It can take up to 3 months before you see results. The main ingredient in this type of product is hydrogen peroxide.

This ingredient helps remove small degrees of surface staining. It’s most effective when used in unison with other whitening products. You can use whitening mouthwash as long as you want since it’s suggested that you use it regularly for maximum results. 

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is the more affordable option for whitening your teeth. It can be used every day or several times per week, but it’s recommended for use twice daily. The ingredients responsible for whitening your teeth can include hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, and mild abrasives. 

Toothpaste that only contains abrasives will remove surface stains, but won’t actually change the internal color of teeth. Toothpaste that contains peroxide will whiten teeth and remove stains to certain degrees. It can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to see results and last up to 3 or 4 months before needing reapplication. 

UV Whitening

UV or LED whitening can be done both at home and in a dentist’s office. The at-home kits include gel and a LED light. You apply the gel to your teeth and then put the LED light device in your mouth. You leave it on there for a certain amount of time and you’re done. It doesn’t get much easier than that. LED teeth whitening can be used once per day for 21 days and then two times per week to maintain your smile. 

There are a lot of UV whitening kits on the market, but one of the most popular is HiSmile. The process is formulated for a total of six daily 10-minute applications. The initial treatment results last 3 to four weeks, but it’s suggested you continue to do a single treatment every two weeks.

How Often Should You Whiten Your Teeth At The Dentist?

Professionally whitening your teeth is more expensive than at-home treatments, but it’s certainly more effective. It’s recommended that you only whiten your teeth once per year at the dentist. This will prevent issues with sensitivity and help create a more natural-looking smile. A product that dentists like to use is Opalescence. 

This brand offers in-office teeth whitening, custom tray whitening, ready-to-go whitening, and daily whitening toothpaste. Your dentist can direct you on how long to use each product. The toothpaste is recommended 2 times per day, the whitening tray is once per day for 10 days, UV tray is once per day for 10 days or until you reach your desired shade, and the in-office teeth whitening can be done in 2 or 3 20-minute applications.  

Hydrogen Peroxide Bleaching

Bleaching should only be done at the dentist. Your dentist will use a strong bleaching agent, such as hydrogen peroxide with heat or light to accelerate the agent. If you maintain good oral hygiene, this method is only required once and lasts 1 to 3 years. 

Why Should You Whiten Your Teeth?

As far as we know, there are no medical reasons for whitening your teeth. Most individuals choose to whiten them because they have coffee, smoke, or soda stains, take certain medications, or just don’t like the shade of their teeth. As you can see from above, it’s easy to get your hands on a teeth whitening system that can prove effective to you and your lifestyle. 

How Can You Maintain Your Results?

Honestly, the best way to maintain your results and the need for touch-ups is to avoid anything that’s going to stain or discolor your teeth. If you’re a smoker, it’s a great time to quit and extend the length of your whitening results. Don’t drink too many dark liquids and use a whitening toothpaste to clear away any new stains quickly and effectively. 

Are There Risks To Teeth Whitening?

With any cosmetic alteration, there are risks. The active ingredients in most teeth whiteners can cause sensitivity in the teeth and gums. Even though it’s generally not long-lasting, some individuals find it uncomfortable with long-term use. There is also the potential for more serious side effects such as: 

Gum Burns & Irritation

You will most likely suffer this side effect if you use at-home gel trays or chairside whitening. Gum burns and irritations are generally mild and temporary. It can be avoided by covering the gums completely before treatment.

Gum Whitening

Your gums may temporarily turn white from bleaching or they can lose their color. It’s not long-lasting, so no need to worry. 

Gastrointestinal Issues

It’s easy to swallow a little bit of the whitening agent while you’re whitening your teeth. However, this could cause a burning sensation in your throat or even a mild stomach ache. 

Tooth Enamel or Dentin Damage 

Research is spotty on this, but it’s been said that surface grooves on the teeth and thinning enamel may be a result of using any type of whitener that uses strong bleaching solutions or abrasions. 

Tips For Good Dental Hygiene

Not only will keeping your teeth clean keep them whiter for longer, but it will also prevent cavities and gingivitis. There are a few ways you can keep your teeth sparkling for longer such as: 

  • Brushing at least twice per day, especially after eating
  • Brush after drinking or eating anything that can stain teeth unless you drink something acidic, then wait 30 minutes
  • Chew sugar-free gum as opposed to regular gum or rinse with water after eating
  • Add a whitening toothpaste or rinse to your routine between whitening treatments

Whitening Ingredients to Avoid

Even though a certain whitening process may look amazing, it could contain ingredients that will do more harm than good to your teeth. 

Citric Acid

Citric acid can erode tooth surfaces and cause sensitivity. If you are using a whitening agent that contains citric acid, especially over an extended period of time, it’s likely to cause harm to your teeth. It has been known to damage teeth when it sits on them for long periods. 

Sodium Chlorite

Keep an eye out for products that contain sodium chlorite. Any teeth whitening gel that contains high levels of this chemical can cause poisoning when ingested. It’s considered to be a strong oxidant and there have been reported cases of sodium chlorite poisoning. It’s unfortunate that most teeth whitening brands don’t disclose the percentages of this ingredient, so you really have no idea if they’re safe or not. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

This is safe and effective when dental clinics use it and it offers great results. However, the issue with at-home teeth whitening products containing this ingredient is the percentage used. Some products have dangerous levels of peroxide in them, which is considered to be more than 33%. The high levels of this ingredient can cause blistering and burn to gums, nerve damage, damage to tooth enamel, and gum-shrinking. 

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The Takeaway

As you can see, there is a wide range of at-home and in-office whitening products and procedures at your disposal. At-home treatments such as rinses, toothpaste, and pens don’t last long but may help extend the benefits of more effective whitening treatments. 

We found white strips to be the most effective over-the-counter whitening treatment with the longest whitening benefits and least amount of time between each treatment. At-home gel trays are nice too, but the gel may be too messy and it doesn’t last as long. 

If you can afford it and have the time, in-office teeth whitening can provide you with longer-lasting results and only needing one application per year. In the end, it’s all up to your lifestyle and budget. 

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