teeth whitening before and after

Teeth whitening is the most requested cosmetic procedure in the United States, and when done properly, it’s safe and effective. 

However, it’s important to properly care for your whitened teeth once the procedure is complete. This helps minimize sensitivity, prevents damage, and keeps your teeth white. 

Let’s take a look at how to properly care for your teeth after an in-office teeth whitening procedure.

Side Effects Following Professional Teeth Whitening

Directly after your teeth whitening treatment at the dentist, you may have a few side effects, including tooth pain or sensitivity, gum irritation, and uneven whitening.

  • Tooth sensitivity and/or tooth pain – Some people may experience increased tooth sensitivity following the teeth whitening procedure, especially when eating or drinking things that are very hot or cold. Increased tooth sensitivity will usually subside after a few days. However, our dentist can also recommend toothpastes that can help reduce your sensitivity.
  • Gum irritation – Teeth whitening requires the use of bleaching agents, which can irritate and inflame the gums. Our dentist may use a gum protectant to help reduce the likelihood of this side effect.
  • Uneven whitening – If you have dental work, like fillings, crowns, or bridges, the teeth whitening procedure will not change the color of your dental work. This can result in uneven whitening. If you have dental work, our dentist can come up with a plan to help achieve your desired results.

Tooth sensitivity, pain, and gum irritation should resolve on its own after two or three days. If you experience these symptoms for longer it’s important to contact your dentist for further care instructions.

Aftercare in the 48 Hours Following Whitening

Teeth whitening treatments involve the use of a bleaching agent in order to break down and remove stains on the tooth’s surface. 

These bleaching agents penetrate your enamel through the pores in your teeth. This process opens the pores. You can think of it like putting a hot cloth on your face when washing it. The hot washcloth opens up the pores in your face so that you can more easily remove the dirt and skin oil from them. The process of teeth bleaching opens up the pores in your teeth so that the bleaching agent can be better absorbed and stains forced out.

The pores slowly close over the next two to three days, but during that time, your teeth are more susceptible to staining from foods and drinks. 

For at least the first 48 hours, it’s best to avoid darkly colored foods and drinks, including berries, coffee, tea, red wine, and tomato sauce. 

Additionally, you’ll want to avoid highly acidic foods, like fermented fruits and vegetables or anything put in vinegar, and you’ll want to skip eating citrus fruits.

It’s important to note that while the pores in your teeth should be back to their normal size after 48 hours, you can extend your caution for a full week in order to ensure that your teeth whitening procedure achieves the best possible results.

Eating & Drinking in the 48 Hours After Teeth Whitening

Since you shouldn’t eat or drink darkly colored foods and avoid acidic foods, you may be wondering what you can eat. Our dentist at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston recommends eating light-colored foods and drinking plenty of water before, during, and after meals. 

Some foods and drink you can safely consume include:

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chicken
  • Clear alcoholic beverages, like gin, sake, white rum, vodka, white wine and light beer.
  • Cucumbers
  • Fish
  • Lightly colored herbal teas, including white tea, decaffeinated tea, green tea, herbal infusions and rooibos tea
  • Milk or a milk alternative, like soy or oat milk
  • Pasta and rice
  • Pears
  • Plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Quinoa
  • Turkey
  • Water and clear juices

Foods you should avoid directly after getting your teeth whitened include:

  • Balsamic vinegar, or any vinegar because it is acidic
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Carmel colored sodas
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Coffee
  • Darkly colored tea, including black tea, chai tea, fruit tea and some herbal teas
  • Red wine
  • Soy sauce
  • Spicy foods that may further irritate gums and teeth
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products
  • Turmeric

Additionally, you may not want to eat foods that are extremely cold or hot because they could irritate your teeth. 

When in doubt, skip the ice in your drink and choose drinks that can be left at room temperature. For hot meals, wait until they have cooled before consuming.

Dental Care in the 48 Hours After Teeth Whitening

While you don’t need to make big changes to your oral hygiene routine after teeth whitening, there are some extra considerations.

  • Brush and floss as normal – You can continue with the recommended dental care routine immediately after teeth whitening – that means brushing twice a day and flossing once daily.
  • Use anti-sensitivity toothpaste or gel – If you are experiencing uncomfortable sensitivity after your teeth whitening treatment, switch to an anti-sensitivity toothpaste or use an anti-sensitivity gel. Anti-sensitivity toothpastes are used just as you would use your regular toothpaste. Anti-sensitivity gels are placed on the teeth and help block the pores in the teeth.
  • Use white toothpastes and clear mouthwashes – Avoid colored toothpastes and mouthwashes as they could prematurely stain your teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth with water – If you do happen to eat or drink something that could stain your teeth, you can thoroughly rinse your mouth with water to help remove the residual particles.
  • Wait 30 minutes after eating to brush your teeth – It’s important to wait 30 minutes after eating before you brush or floss your teeth. This is especially important if you’ve eaten food that is acidic or sugary. These foods can temporarily weaken the enamel, which means that if you brush or floss your teeth directly after eating, you could further damage your enamel with the bristles on your toothbrush.

Rehydrating Teeth After Whitening

The teeth whitening process can cause a loss of moisture in your teeth. This is because as the pores enlarge to allow the whitening agents in, the fluids and moisture in your teeth can flow out. 

Additionally, the internal temperature of each tooth that is whitened is raised, which causes a further loss of moisture. 

After your procedure, your teeth will naturally rehydrate themselves in two to seven days. However, there are things you can do to help your teeth during this time.

  • Drink plenty of water – water naturally hydrates every part of your body, including your teeth.
  • Use an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste – Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel while promoting remineralization of the tooth’s surface.
  • Avoid highly acidic foods and drinks – Acidic foods and drinks can cause additional moisture loss in the teeth and slow the rehydration process.
  • Use a remineralizing gel – Remineralization gels can help restore lost minerals in the teeth.

Other Aftercare Habits to Help Your Teeth After Whitening

To ensure the best end result for your teeth whitening procedure, it’s best to avoid tobacco products, this includes cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and vape pens. 

Additionally, if you do drink a darkly colored liquid that could stain your teeth, it’s recommended to use a straw. This helps minimize the contact between your teeth and the liquid.

Long-term Care with Whitened Teeth

Since it’s not recommended to have your teeth whitened more than twice a year due to the fact that excessive whitening can damage your enamel, you may want to think long-term when it comes to keeping your teeth white. 

While your restrictions on eating and drinking ease after the first two days, you may want to continue limiting the amount of stain-causing food and drinks you consume and make sure you are following a healthy oral care routine. This will help keep your teeth white for a longer period of time.

Professional Teeth Whitening in Houston at Bunker Hill Dentistry

Our dentist at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston offers professional in-office teeth whitening that can be complemented with at-home kits for touch-ups in order to give you the best results. 

We’ll also send you home with detailed instructions on how to use the kits and what to do after you’ve whitened your teeth in order to achieve the best results.

Learn more about in-office teeth whitening at Bunker Hill Dentistry.