The process of teeth whitening is fairly simple. Whether you’re having the treatment done in-office by your dentist or following the direction of an at-home kit, whitening is more accessible than ever before.
But did you know you can actually reverse the effects of whitening if you fail to follow up the procedure with the correct care?
Because whitening gels and solution contain bleach that temporarily removes minerals and weakens enamel, it is important to take certain precautions post-treatment.
Following the proper follow-up care can help your teeth stay whiter longer and help to prevent any unnecessary discomfort or pain.
Read on for the ultimate Teeth Whitening Follow-Up Care Guide.
Step #1 – Wait to Brush Your Teeth
Brush and floss your teeth prior to beginning the teeth whitening treatment. Because the whitening agents are still working on your teeth (even after the treatment is done!) it’s important not to disrupt them. Doing so could result in an uneven or blotchy whitening job.
Additionally, your teeth will be very porous and more sensitive post-whitening, so brushing your teeth immediately after could cause discomfort or even pain.
It is advised to wait at least 30 minutes after any whitening treatment to allow your teeth to remineralize before brushing them again.
Step #2 – Toothbrush and Toothpaste
When it is time to brush your teeth, use a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride or sensitive toothpaste.
Your teeth will be more sensitive than normal so using a toothbrush with rough bristles can irritate your teeth. To allow them enough time to fully remineralize, use a soft-bristled brush instead when brushing your teeth.
In addition, ensure that you aren’t brushing too hard. Side-to-side brushing right at the gum line can make your enamel go away faster. Instead, try to brush at a 45 degree angle.
By the same token, it can help to use a fluoride-heavy or sensitive toothpaste. Fluoride helps to strengthen enamel, which is the layer that helps to protect your teeth.
Some great sensitive toothpastes include:
- Sensodyne – Sensodyne toothpastes contain either stannous fluoride or potassium nitrate as an active ingredient. Stannous fluoride works by creating a barrier over sensitive areas, while potassium nitrate works by soothing the nerves inside your teeth.
- Squigle – Squigle Tooth Builder is formulated to deeply clean your teeth and mouth. Free of sodium lauryl sulfate, this gentle toothpaste won’t irritate even the most sensitive mouths while calcite crystals help stop sensitivity. Its gentle formula features no added flavor and combats canker sores, mouth ulcers and chapped lips.
- Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief – This toothpaste works by plugging the channels that lead to sensitive tooth nerves to help relieve the sensitivity and promises lasting protection with regular use.
Step #3 – Avoid Temperature Sensitivity
Keeping on the ‘your teeth will be sensitive’ train, avoid anything particularly hot or cold. Newly whitened teeth are sensitive to extreme temperatures because of the open pores and weakened enamel. So it’s probably best to skip out on ice in your drinks or a hot bowl of soup.
In addition, rinse with lukewarm water when possible.
Step #4 – Eat the Right Foods
What to Eat
In general, it’s best to stick to a ‘white diet’ of foods that will not re-stain your teeth. These are foods that have no noticeable pigment such as:
- White Rice
- Plain Yogurt
- White Sauce
And so forth.
What to Avoid
So it’s important to avoid any dark or pigment-heavy foods that could stain your teeth. (A general rule of thumb is that if it could stain a white T-shirt – it could stain your teeth!) Some of these foods include:
- Red Meat
- Most Fruits
- Dark Sodas
- Tomato Sauce
It can also be beneficial to avoid any acidic foods or beverages immediately after treatment. Carbonated beverages, citrus and other acidic substances can cause damage and decay to your teeth – and can be especially harmful when the pores of your teeth are exposed directly after whitening.
Wait at least 48-72 hours before consuming these foods and liquids again.
Here is an example of a ‘white diet’ meal plan you could use post-treatment.
|Breakfast||Scrambled eggs, plain greek yogurt and a banana|
|Lunch||Chicken breast, white rice and a side of cauliflower|
|Dinner||Pasta of choice with garlic and Alfredo sauce|
For extra precaution, use a straw for any beverages so nothing comes in direct contact with your teeth.
Step # 5 – Make Regular Trips to the Dentist
Even if you did an at-home treatment, continue to schedule regular dental cleanings and checkups.
The buildup of plaque and other substances can make your teeth appear darker in color. Having your teeth professionally cleaned can help keep your teeth whiter longer by removing minor surface stains or excess plaque.
Don’t Smoke. Wait at least 24 hours before smoking to prevent heavy smoke stains or discoloration on your teeth. Of course, overtime continual smoking will cause the whitening effect to fade but it is more detrimental in the first few days following a whitening treatment.
No Lipstick. Even though lipstick is meant to be worn on the lips, we all have those days where we somehow end up with a smudge of color on our teeth.
Wait Long Enough Before Your Next Treatment. It’s important to give your teeth enough time to heal from a whitening treatment before beginning another. You want to allow your enamel time to strengthen, so wait at least 6 months before considering another whitening treatment.
Stick to this guide for at least the first 48 hours post-treatment (but we recommend waiting 72 hours before resuming your regular routine!) to ensure that you keep those pearly whites, white!