When Does Teeth Whitening Not Work?

Picture this: You’ve saved and paid for your whitening appointment or at-home whitening kit. You’ve set aside the time to turn your teeth that perfect shade of white. You’ve prepped everything, read and/or followed the directions of your dentist and… the result is less than ideal.

But… why?

Firstly, know that you are not alone. There are many factors that may have influenced the result of your teeth whitening treatment.

In this article we will be going over the common mistakes that most teeth whiteners make and why your teeth didn’t turn out as you expected.

7 Reasons Why Your Teeth Whitening Didn’t Work.

#1 Expectation VS Reality

Let’s start with what can be expected from a teeth whitening treatment. A common misconception in the teeth whitening world is that any smile can can be turned that perfect, blinding shade of white.

But the reality is that the actual shade of ‘white’ your teeth will turn from a treatment will vary drastically from person to person. This is because we all have a starting natural teeth color – for some lucky few, this shade is white, or somewhere around it. But, in general, most people have an off-white or even yellowish natural shade.

And, before you ask: No. Even getting your teeth professionally whitened in a dentist office doesn’t really make a difference in terms of affecting your natural shade.

Therefore, it’s important to approach teeth whitening realistically. The ultimate goal of your teeth whitening journey should be to remove surface stains and to bring your teeth back to their natural, evenly-colored shade.

#2 Weak Whitening Agent  

It can ‘pay’ to pay for the better product. In general, having your teeth whitened professionally by your dentist will provide the cleanest, most successful results.

However, whitening at home is still a very viable and realistic option. The trick is to purchase a quality product. In some whitening kits (usually the less expensive) the whitening agent just isn’t strong enough to truly affect the color of your teeth.

Research and read reviews of the best at-home whitening kits on the market. It isn’t going to be worth your time and money if your don’t see any difference in your teeth before and after treatment.

# 3 Does the Tray Fit?

Just like wearing the wrong size shoe can result in poor support or posture, wearing the wrong size whitening tray can affect the quality of your teeth whitening experience.

If a tray is too big, the whitening agent will not adhere to your teeth and the result will be blotchy and uneven. On the other hand, if the tray is too small, it may not be covering your entire row of teeth which means not all of them will be exposed to the whitening gel.

Just as we all come in different shapes and sizes, so do our teeth. Make the extra effort to try on the whitening tray prior to the whitening treatment and replace it with the correct size if necessary.

# 4 Leave Them On Long Enough

At-home whitening can be a tricky process. It’s important that you follow the directions exactly as they are printed. This includes leaving the whitening gel on your teeth for the correct amount of time.

Oftentimes people will remove the tray or treatment before the agents have had time to finish whitening. Sometimes this is because they may be experiencing some pain or discomfort.

One way to avoid this situation is to take the proper pre-treatment precautions. Brush with a fluoride-heavy toothpaste, use a soft bristled brush, prep with a desensitizing gel and so on. This will ensure that your teeth can withstand the chemicals of the whitening gel and you can keep the trays on for the entire treatment time.

# 5 … But Not TOO Long!

 On the other hand, it’s crucial to not leave the whitening strips or whitening trays on for too long. Most at-home kits warn of the dangers of leaving a treatment on for longer than the recommended time.

This can include discoloration, increased tooth sensitivity, a blotchy whitening result and more. So set a timer or alarm if you need to – just don’t go over or under your whitening time!

# 6 Eating and Drinking Post-Treatment

If you notice the color fading a few days after your treatment, there are a few possible reasons why.

The first is that this is normal. It can take a few hours (sometimes even a couple days) for your teeth to finish the whitening process. Until your teeth ‘dry out’, you will not see the (true) new color of your smile. This means that your final shade might be slightly darker than the original shade you observed right after treatment. (Again – completely normal!)

However, it’s important to also consider what you are consuming after treatment. What you eat or drink may also be playing a role in why your teeth whitening didn’t work.

Because your teeth are more porous in the first 48 hours after a treatment, they are more susceptible to surface stains and discoloration. For this reason, avoid dark foods and beverages like coffee, soda and tomato-based products. Instead, try to stick to a ‘white diet,’ which includes potatoes, rice, eggs, chicken, etc.

 # 7 Unhealthy or Aged Teeth

In some (more rare) cases, your teeth may not be able to hold up to teeth whitening as well as others. Cavities, exposed gums, decaying enamel and other health-related issues can all affect teeth whitening results.

In addition, teeth whitening agents will not affect (or whiten) veneers, porcelain teeth, caps and so forth. So if you have had previous dental work done, performing a teeth whitening treatment can result in an uneven overall shade.

Lastly, age can also heavily affect how well a whitening treatment performs. Older teeth are less prone to whitening and may have semi or even permanent surface stains.

Whatever the reason your teeth whitening didn’t work, don’t dismay. Use these tips to better prepare yourself for next time. There’s a reason teeth whitening is so popular – because, we done correctly, it really works!