Teeth whitening is a procedure carried out by most individuals at some point or repeatedly through various methods. It could be as simple as a specialized toothpaste or for those that want to get the most out of it, a visit to the dentist’s chair. Lucky for you though getting the white shine back on your teeth and reversing the course of time is becoming easier and easier. These methods may differ in cost and end results, however in order to maintain the positive results you achieve it is important to follow certain guidelines after the procedure.

Happy couple with perfect smile and white teeth

We asked Dr. Stefano Rizzi, Head of the Oral Surgery Dental Centre at Humanitas:

“What does  whitening do to the teeth and how do we maintain the results?”

Why do teeth stain?

“Our teeth generally lose their color naturally and as they age. Other habits such as smoking, eating, and drinking colored beverages (i.e tea and coffee) are also likely to stain your teeth. Individuals can resort to bleaching (whitening), but bear in mind that this procedure is not miraculous and does not provide a “ceramic white” effect but rather lightens the color of the teeth. For those whose teeth are changing towards a more cream, intense yellow or gray color the expected results are a shade clearer than the one they had before.”

Is teeth whitening for everyone?

“If the teeth have cosmetic defects due to, for example calcification, then whitening will not do much: in such cases it is more appropriate to apply aesthetic crowns. Another case in which the decision to undergo a teeth whitening procedure must be well thought out is when you have implants. Implants retain their color and therefore with whitening you would notice the differences in tone between the implant and your natural teeth. Those who suffer from tooth sensitivity must also be careful with teeth whitening procedures. Furthermore, if there has been absorption or reduction of gingival tissues (gums), dental sensitivity can become chronic.”

Is it best to go to a dentist or do it yourself?

“My advice is to always consult with a dentist. This way, you can undergo teeth whitening with a specialist or receive information about proper teeth whitening at home.  Generally, teeth whitening at home is a more time consuming process than that done in a dental office. Acting autonomously with OTC (over the counter) products is not recommended because you may not always be able to properly use these products without the risk of irritating your oral tissues.”

What precautions should I take after teeth whitening?

“If you want to keep your teeth white and bright, then eventually you should quit smoking. Fundamental oral hygiene is important and you must realize that brushing teeth thoroughly can help prevent stagnation and plaque from becoming tartar, the forerunner of teeth spots. Be careful when eating pigmented foods but especially limit your intake of beverages that “color” the teeth. These include but aren’t limited to sugary drinks, licorice, chocolate, tea, coffee, and also acidic beverages such as water with lemon. The acid attacks the enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable and the risk of staining is increased. Try using a straw in such cases.”

How often does one need to “touch up” after undergoing teeth whitening for the first time?

“The response to bleaching is subjective. You can enjoy a nice color for 3-4 years; however, there are some people who may need to correct small stained spots more often. Sometimes, after the first whitening you can even touch up an individual tooth to keep the tone even”, concludes Dr. Rizzi.