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Teeth Whitening: Overview, Types, Procedures & Maintenance

Written by Danica Lacson on September 27, 2018

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is an elective dental procedure done to lighten the current shade of the teeth and achieve a pearly white appearance.

What are the Types of Teeth Whitening?

Patients can opt to use whitening toothpaste, over-the-counter whitening strips and gels, whitening rinses, tray-based tooth whiteners, and in-office whitening.

Whitening toothpaste and rinses

Like how Dentistry has improved, toothpaste has also evolved by providing variants for different dental conditions. Whitening toothpaste is readily available and can be purchased in supermarkets. They usually contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen, a bleaching agent. Whitening toothpaste contains abrasives designed to remove stains on the tooth’s enamel.

Similarly, whitening rinses contain the same bleaching agent to lighten the teeth’s color. Results are usually observable after 12 weeks of continued use.

Teeth whitening strips

Teeth whitening strips are made of thin and flexible polyethylene which is infused with a layer of hydrogen peroxide. The strip is advised to be worn twice a day for 30 minutes. It must be gently pressed against the teeth to ensure contact.

The duration of treatment is dependent on the extent of discoloration.

Teeth whitening gels

These gels contain hydrogen peroxide and are effective only after regular use. The gels are to be applied twice a day for 14 days with sustained whitening results attainable for an average of four months.

Tray bleaching

This professional whitening kit is provided by a dentist. It is expected to be more effective and work faster than over-the-counter products due to its intensified peroxide strength. A peroxide-based gel is applied on the custom-made trays which are fitted over the mouth. Due to the production of hydroxyl radicals upon the breakdown of the peroxide agent, teeth whitening procedure is activated. Results are observed as early as three to five days with maximum effects usually attained in ten to 14 days.

In-office whitening

Performed in a dental office, in-office whitening is the fastest method of teeth bleaching. It uses a dental lamp which accelerates the breakdown of peroxide. The treatment uses highly concentrated peroxide. Immediate results can be noticed in one 90-minute session. However, impressive results are achievable after several treatments. In-office whitening is also the costliest among the teeth whitening treatments.

How can I maintain my teeth whitening?

After receiving professional or at-home teeth whitening, maintaining your beautiful, “new” teeth is the next step.

There are certain things you should avoid to keep your pearly whites white and healthy as long as possible.

Some foods and drinks to exclude:

Acidic Foods/Beverages

As most know, teeth whitening treatments often leave patients’ teeth sensitive and weak, especially when dealing with acidic sources. It is not uncommon for pain to occur after eating such foods.

For this reason, it is best advised to limit or avoid completely acidic foods and drinks such as lemonade, vinegar, alcohol, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and others containing an acidic pH.

Dark Beverages And Colored Foods

Dark, staining drinks such as some alcoholic beverages, coffee, darker juices, and black teas can stain your beautifully-whiten teeth. Sodas and sports drinks are also advised to avoid post-teeth whitening. If you must consume these, opt for a straw to avoid as much direct contact with your teeth as possible.

Additionally, naturally- or unnaturally-colored foods such as cranberries, lollipops and other candies, popsicles, and other brightly- or deeply-colored foods are best to avoid after treatment.

Keeping away from staining foods and drinks is necessary for your teeth whitening treatment to last as long as possible.

Cold Or Hot Foods/Beverages

Again, teeth whitening causes the teeth to become sensitive. Avoiding foods and drinks that are very cold or very hot is essential not to irritate sensitive teeth prone to pain.

Soups, hot chocolate, coffee, hot teas, ice cubes, ice cream, popsicles, and the like are best to avoid or keep in moderation following teeth whitening.

High Sugar

As much as most of us love sugar, avoiding overly-sweetened foods is vital as the teeth are still trying to tackle a neutralized pH balance and manage sensitivity after receiving teeth whitening treatment.

Keeping a diet filled with non-sugary foods is always vital for healthy teeth; however, as always, things should be held in moderation, but especially for those with sensitive teeth after whitening their pearly whites.

In conclusion, teeth whitening is an excellent dental procedure for those wanting brighter and whiter teeth. However, it is crucial to follow some simple procedures after the treatment to ensure your sensitive teeth are best cared for and to avoid staining your beautiful, white teeth.

Following the procedures above regarding foods and drinks is essential and should be followed especially during the first few weeks after treatment. Shortly after then, one may resume their regular diet as sensitivity will most likely be gone by then. Some, though, continue avoiding staining foods and drinks until their teeth whitening starts to wear off.

It is up to you to decide if the health of your pearly whites and new, bright teeth shade is important enough to avoid certain types of foods and drinks short-term.

Does Teeth Whitening Cause Sensitivity?

Teeth whitening treatments can cause teeth sensitivity. Dental professionals suggest the use of desensitizing toothpaste, avoidance of sugary and acidic foods and drinks, and to consult with your dentist for possible remedy.

How can I treat my sensitive teeth after teeth whitening?

Teeth can be sensitive after whitening treatments. In case this happens to you, there are lots of available options for you to consider in order to lessen the discomfort or pain. Some of them include:

  • Chewing gum. Studies have discovered that chewing gum greatly helps produce more saliva. In addition, such actions can aid distract the person with sensitive teeth from the discomfort.
  • Using toothpaste that is designed for those with sensitive teeth. There is available sensitive toothpaste which is specially formulated with potassium nitrate. This ingredient is great for relieving the discomfort linked with tooth sensitivity.
  • For a while, avoid the use of whitening products or treatments. If sensitivity persists, give your teeth some time to rest from using whitening products.

How can I Whiten Teeth at home?

Natural Bleaching Solutions

Some foods and drinks have the ability to darken the teeth like coffee and cola, while some foods can help alleviate tooth discoloration. These include strawberries. Create a paste made from the same rub and then wash teeth. You can also mix bay leaves and orange peel to get a paste that works on teeth, or use vegetables like cucumber, broccoli, and carrots.


Although it may seem incredible, chewing an apple is an emergency measure for when you have forgotten toothbrush. As we chew, apple removes excess food and bacteria from the mouth and clean surface stains. They contain malic acid, a product often used in chemical tooth whiteners

Sodium Bicarbonate

As you may know, sodium bicarbonate has been used for years to whiten teeth, and also clean. To use it, we must make a paste with baking soda, water and a pinch of salt-sometimes lemon-juice is also included. We brush our teeth, taking care to rinse the mouth. We should not use regularly: two times a week will get remarkable results. Thus, it is up to you!

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another option, although a little more dangerous, is hydrogen peroxide used to whiten many things, among the most famous hair. However, it should be used with caution, because although many products contain it, is in small doses. Make sure you remain aware.


In the event that you like gum very much, you must seek those with xylitol, a natural sweetener that prevents plaque neutralizes the pH levels in the mouth and increases the production of saliva.

Aside From Teeth Whitening Treatments, There Are Also Ways To Have Whiter Teeth By Simple Means.

  • Proper oral hygiene clears away stains instantly.
  • Drinking water helps wash away stains from a meal. Keeping yourself hydrated is also vital in maintaining the moisture inside the mouth.
  • Eat an apple. Apple can brighten the teeth by removing the film that makes the teeth appear discolored. Also, pears and celery can be alternative to apple.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of sugar-based foods and beverages which can cause the accumulation of plaque.

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.


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