“How long does tooth whitening last?” and Other FAQs

By Dr. Brett Silverman | Sep 13, 2022 | Cosmetic Dentistry, Teeth Whitening
“How long does tooth whitening last?” and Other FAQs

(updated March 2024)

Everyone struggles with some degree of dental staining. No matter how well you care for your teeth, foods, drinks, and the natural process of aging will cause your smile to become a little darker. But tooth whitening is a quick, easy treatment that can restore your sparkling grin and your self-confidence.

At Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry in Alpharetta, we offer effective in-office whitening, as well as touch-up whitening treatments you can do at home. Our team is happy to answer your questions so you feel confident that whitening is the right treatment for you.

Contact our Alpharetta, GA, office today to schedule your consultation or whitening treatment. In the meantime check out some common questions about teeth whitening.




How long does tooth whitening last?

The duration of your treatment will depend on the type of whitening you get. Professional, in-office whitening results can last 1-3 years if you properly care for your teeth.



coffee latte in a mug

How do dental stains occur?

There are two types of dental stains.

  • Extrinsic stains: This discoloration appears on the surface of teeth. It is usually the result of foods, drinks, age, and other factors like smoking. Dark-colored foods, such as coffee, red wine, and berries are particularly likely to cause stains. Acidic foods like citrus and soda can also lead to stains since the acid can erode dental enamel.

Tooth whitening is only meant to address extrinsic stains.

  • Intrinsic stains: Intrinsic discoloration is located inside of the teeth. Often it results from infection. Certain medications can also lead to internal staining.

Whitening cannot address intrinsic stains. Nonetheless, there are other great cosmetic dentistry options that can help, which include porcelain veneers and dental bonding.



tooth image with water splashing

How can I prolong my results?

The best way to ensure long-lasting results is to exercise proper dental hygiene. Brush and floss daily and visit our dentist at least twice a year.

You should also drink plenty of water with meals to wash away bits of food. And limit your intake of stain-producing foods like those mentioned above.


man in thinking pose

How often can I whiten my teeth?

Even with good hygiene and a careful diet, your teeth will eventually start to stain again. It is safe to undergo repeat whitening treatments, as long as you do so with our dentist’s approval and supervision.

You should not whiten more than twice per year, since this can dry out your enamel and cause dental sensitivity. However, as mentioned above, many patients do not see stains return for at least a year following their initial treatment.

Often, we provide teeth whitening trays to perform touch-ups at home.


tooth whitening gel and tray

What are the different types of teeth whitening?

There are numerous whitening options to choose from:

  • Professional in-office whitening: After our dentist coats your teeth in peroxide-based whitening gel, he/she will activate the gel with a light. The peroxide will chemically break down stains for dramatic results.
  • Professional at-home whitening: Our dentist can provide you with custom-made trays. You will fill the trays with peroxide-based gel and wear them for a specified time each day.
  • Various over-the-counter products: Drug store aisles are filled with a plethora of whitening solutions, including whitening toothpastes, whitening strips, mouthwashes, and pens.

To learn more about the types of teeth whitening we offer at Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Alpharetta, visit our Teeth Whitening page.



apple and orange

Is professional teeth whitening really better than over-the-counter products?

Quite frankly – yes. Over-the-counter products will achieve much less noticeable results, and they will typically not last as long as the results from professional treatment.

Moreover, it usually takes weeks to complete do-it-yourself treatments. In contrast, in-office whitening takes about 45 minutes!



badge that says wow

How dramatic are the results?

Again, this depends on the type of whitening you select.

In-office whitening can lighten your smile by as many as nine shades, though most patients see a change of two to seven shades. Rinses, strips, toothpastes, and gels will usually whiten teeth by one to two shades.

Tray-based whitening systems usually do not have the same dramatic results as chair-side whitening. For this reason, we typically recommend whitening trays to perform touch-ups after your initial treatment in the office.



collage of people

How common is tooth whitening?

Whitening is incredibly popular. And no wonder! The treatment yields significant results, yet it is convenient and affordable.

According to the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the most common problem that people wish to address is dental staining. Furthermore, 90% of orthodontic patients ask for whitening treatments.



side effects badge

What are the side effects of whitening?

Most patients experience some mild tooth and gum sensitivity after whitening. This discomfort typically subsides within a few days.

Irritation is directly linked to the concentration of peroxide in the whitening gel. This is yet another reason to choose professional tooth whitening. The peroxide in these products is carefully controlled, and our dentist will exercise caution so that it does not come in contact with your gums.



exclamation point

Are there any long-term risks?

There are reports that whitening can damage dental enamel, leading to permanent sensitivity and discoloration.

However, these risks are negligible when you opt for professional whitening and follow our dentist’s instructions. It is only when you over-whiten or use products with unsafe levels of peroxide that damage is likely to occur.



charcoal for tooth whitening

Can I use charcoal to whiten my teeth?

Hailed as a health supplement, charcoal is a popular choice for digestion and other medicinal purposes. Charcoal has even found its way into toothpastes and other whitening products.

However, according to the American Dental Association, there is no evidence to suggest that these products actually work.

Rather, charcoal can be abrasive, damaging the dental enamel. Not only will this put you at a greater risk for tooth decay; it will also expose the underlying dentin. Dentin is much more porous than enamel and, therefore, more susceptible to staining.



girl who received tooth whitening

Can teenagers get tooth whitening?

Yes. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes that bleaching can be beneficial for younger patients and recommends “judicious” use of whitening products. However, it states that parents should supervise all whitening and that it should always be performed with the guidance of a dentist.



Keeping Your Smile Bright: Post-Whitening Treatment Care Tips

Achieving a dazzling smile through teeth whitening is a rewarding investment. But to maintain those pearly whites, proper aftercare is crucial. Here are some simple habits you can incorporate to extend the longevity of your whitening treatment:

1. Ditch the Tobacco: If you’re a tobacco user, be it cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or any other form, it’s time to break the habit. Tobacco products contain a cocktail of chemicals that stain teeth and cause significant discoloration. By quitting, you’ll not only protect your overall health but also prevent your newly whitened smile from becoming dull again.

2. Embrace the Straw: Our daily meals and drinks expose our teeth to a surprising amount of staining particles. To minimize this after whitening, make friends with straws! Using a straw allows your beverage to bypass most of your teeth, minimizing contact with staining agents like coffee, tea, and red wine.

3. Be Food and Drink Savvy: Certain foods and drinks are notorious for staining teeth. While you don’t need to completely eliminate them, being mindful of your choices helps. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Acids: Acidic foods and drinks, like citrus fruits, sodas, and tomato sauce, can erode tooth enamel, making them more susceptible to staining.
  • Sugary Treats: Sugary foods and drinks create an environment where bacteria thrive. These bacteria produce acids that contribute to stains.

By limiting these categories, you’ll be kinder to your teeth and your bright smile will last longer.

Bonus Tip: Maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine. Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once a day to remove food particles and prevent staining. Regular dental checkups are also vital for maintaining overall oral health and the longevity of your whitening treatment.

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy the confidence of a bright smile for much longer!

Learn More about Your Tooth Whitening Options in Alpharetta, GA

For more information or to book an appointment with a skilled cosmetic dentist, contact our office today.

You can make an appointment online or call us at 678-679-2853.