Teeth Whitening (cont.)

Follow-Up Care

Whitening is not permanent. People who expose their teeth to a lot of foods and beverages that cause staining may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as 1 month. Those who avoid foods and beverages that stain may be able to wait one year or longer before another whitening treatment or touch-up is needed.

Tips for maintaining your newly whitened teeth include:

  • Avoiding the consumption of or exposure to products that stain your teeth (see first question in this document on what causes teeth to become stained). If you do choose to consume beverages that stain, consider using a straw so that the liquid bypasses your front teeth.
  • Brush or rinse immediately after consuming stain-causing beverages or foods.
  • Follow good oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss at least once daily to remove plaque. Use a whitening toothpaste (once or twice a week only) to remove surface stains and prevent yellowing. Use a regular toothpaste the rest of the time.
  • Consider touch-up treatments. Depending on the whitening method used, you may need a tough-up every 6 months or after a year or two. If you smoke or drink lots of stain-causing beverages, you may need a touch up more often.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance cover the cost of whitening procedures?
No. Dental insurance does not typically cost the cost of the tooth whitening procedure.

Do teeth whiteners damage tooth enamel?
Studies of whitening products using 10% carbamide peroxide showed little to no effect on the hardness or mineral content of a tooth's enamel surface.

Do teeth whiteners damage existing dental restorations?
Over 10 years of clinical use of whitening products containing 10% carbamide peroxide have not shown any damage to existing fillings. The issue is not "damage" to existing restorations; rather, keep in mind that existing restorations such as tooth-colored fillings, crowns, bonding, veneers, and bridges do not lighten. This means that any preexisting dental work may need to be replaced to match the new tooth shade achieved in the natural teeth, should a bleaching process proceed.

Do teeth whiteners damage a tooth's nerve?
There's no evidence to date that the tooth whitening process has a harmful effect on the health of a tooth's nerve. One study reported that at both a 4.5 and 7-year follow up, no individual who used a tooth whitening system needed a root canal procedure on any teeth that had been whitened.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of Dentistry.
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, February 2003, WebMD.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic



Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 6:19:21 AM

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