Teeth Whitening Tips & FAQs by a Cosmetic Dentist (2024)


BY. DR. ERIN MINHEE OH, Cosmetic Dentistry, Avenue Dental Los Angeles, CA

Our dental advisor Dr. Erin Minhee Oh answers your most frequently asked questions and provides tips for safe teeth whitening.

Q: Should you brush your teeth after using OTC whitening strips?

Absolutely. You do not want to leave the whitening gel on your teeth, so after your 15 -30 minutes are up and you peel off your whitening strip, immediately rinse off or brush off any excess whitening agent (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) left on the surface of your teeth that can cause tooth sensitivity.

Q: Can I do teeth whitening while in orthodontic treatment (wearing braces)

We do not recommend teeth whitening while in orthodontic treatment due to the appliances involved with orthodontic treatment. If you have metal or ceramic brackets, the whitening gel will not penetrate through these appliances and if you whiten your teeth, you will be left with those areas being your natural tooth color and the remaining areas to be a different shade.

Q: Are charcoal toothpaste and charcoal teeth whitening powder safe?

Short answer is no, and I recommend using them with lots of caution. Activated Charcoal oral care products have been the hype in the last few years, being incorporated into toothpastes and coming out as a whitening agent on its own. The claim is that when it is applied to the teeth, activated charcoal supposedly traps and lifts away stains for a whitening effect. Unfortunately there has not been any scientific evidence behind this theory and many products that have been advertised as having activated charcoal have been found to contain bentonite clay, which sometimes contains lead. Activated Charcoal can also be very abrasive due to its unregulated particle sizes. It can actually cause enamel erosion and micro-tearing of the gums. This can consequently lead to weakening of the tooth structure, teeth sensitivity and various gum disease.

Q: How to deal with tooth sensitivity with whitening procedures?

A very common side effect of teeth whitening is sensitivity. Using a remineralizing toothpaste (fluoride or nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste) or a desensitizer to close up or seal the dentinal tubules that may be exposed while the teeth are whitened will significantly reduce teeth sensitivity. For patients who suffer from generalized tooth sensitivity to begin with, dentists will sometimes have them use a prescription fluoride toothpaste for at least 2 weeks prior to whitening procedures.

Q: Why does in-office teeth whitening cost more?

The teeth whitening agents we use at a dental office are usually stronger and will deliver stunning results. Also in-office treatment supervised by a dental professional can be tailored for each patient’s existing teeth condition and customizing the shades.

Q: General teeth whitening tips?

In summary, cosmetic teeth whitening is an excellent procedure to enhance your smile. With many ways to improve yellow teeth, it does not matter what you choose – just remember to follow the instructions of each product to the tee. There is no best product or best way to whiten your teeth, but as a dental professional I do recommend:

  • Understand the root cause of tooth discoloration and whether your teeth can handle the potentially harsh bleaching process with dental professionals. DIY teeth whitening can do more harm than good when misused.
  • Get a dental examination done first by your dentist to make sure you do not have any pre-existing conditions (cavities, receding gums, sensitive teeth) that can be aggravated by the strong whitening ingredients. Whether you are planning to use at home treatment or in office whitening.
  • Get a teeth cleaning first prior to whitening your teeth to remove all extrinsic stains in your teeth (that can only be removed professionally) to achieve the best results with your teeth whitening.
  • Use a remineralizing toothpaste - with fluoride or nano-hydroxyapatite (nHA) to minimize tooth sensitivity. If you already have sensitive teeth to begin with, ask your dentist for a prescription fluoride toothpaste for 2-4 weeks prior to teeth whitening.
  • nHA toothpastes can lengthen the whitening effect from the procedure. It not only protects against sensitive teeth but also restores translucency and gloss. By restoring mineral density to both surface and subsurface enamel contributing to brighter and whiter teeth. It has more benefits than off the shelf hydrogen peroxide based whitening toothpastes.

Read more:


- 10 Reasons to Try Nano-hydroxyapatite (nHA) Toothpaste

Shop all OJOOK nHA + Bamboo Salt products

Teeth Whitening Tips & FAQs by a Cosmetic Dentist (2024)


How do cosmetic dentists whiten teeth? ›

The front surface of the tooth is coated with a whitening solution. The solution contains a bleaching agent, typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. A laser or curing light is usually used to activate the peroxide. After applying the solution, we leave it for about 30 to 60 minutes.

What makes you a good candidate for teeth whitening? ›

Teeth that are yellow respond best to bleaching. Brown or gray teeth, or teeth striped or mottled from tetracycline or too much fluoride, may not whiten evenly when bleached. People with periodontal disease or particularly sensitive teeth may want to avoid chemical whitening techniques that can irritate tender gums.

What does professional teeth whitening involve? ›

There are a few types of in-office whitening treatments: A high concentration hydrogen peroxide gel, which is applied by a syringe. A hydrogen peroxide combined with a high-intensity light, like LED, UV or halogen. The light is applied by a lamp or laser device that sits directly outside of your mouth.

How effective is teeth whitening at the dentist? ›

In-office whitening is highly effective, safe, and long-lasting. But it's more expensive than over-the-counter options, and often isn't covered by dental insurance. Ask your dentist for a cost estimate before committing to teeth whitening.

How to whiten teeth over 60? ›

Bleaching Trays

Compared to commercial products, whitening trays from your dentist are stronger and much safer for seniors in particular. As you age, your gums and teeth can become more sensitive. Your dentist can first evaluate your oral health to determine if you are eligible to receive teeth whitening.

How long does cosmetic teeth whitening last? ›

Typically, you will begin to see results some weeks after the procedure. And depending on how you care for your teeth, the result can last as long as six months to three years after the procedure. Teeth Whitening Tip: The results from the procedure and its duration vary from one person to another.

What makes you ineligible for teeth whitening? ›

Poor Candidates

This is because the pulp chamber in young teeth is larger than that of an adult, and whitening treatments could cause irritation. If you are pregnant or lactating, teeth whitening is not recommended. If you have sensitive teeth, you should let your dentist know.

What color makes your teeth look the most white? ›

Generally, lighter and cooler tones such as white, silver, clear, light blue, or light pink can create the illusion of whiter teeth.

Who should not get their teeth whitened? ›

Children under 16 years of age. Patients with periodontal disease, tooth decay, cavities and exposed roots. People who are allergic to teeth bleaching whitening agents like peroxide. Individuals with sensitive teeth.

Can old yellow teeth be whitened? ›

Dentistry for seniors suggests tooth whitening can be done at any age of adulthood. Tooth whitening products remove built-up stains and brighten the enamel. They are affordable and easy-to-use solutions to the problem of aging yellow teeth.

What is the fastest teeth whitening method? ›

Zoom in office whitening

Zoom-in-office whitening is the best teeth whitening system out there. It is fast (takes about an hour) and you get great results. This is the one you have probably seen before where the patients are under that blue light and it turns your teeth up to four shades of whiter.

How to whiten teeth in 2 minutes? ›

Just mix a teaspoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and brush your teeth with the paste this mixture will work wonders in just two minutes.

Why do my teeth look more yellow after whitening? ›

Teeth can become temporarily dehydrated after using whitening strips. Your teeth may appear more yellow as a result of this dehydration because the enamel may become dry and lack moisture. Dehydrated enamel sometimes has a transparent appearance that makes the naturally yellowish dentin underneath visible.

How long does teeth whitening take at the dentist? ›

The length of professional teeth whitening depends on the dentist you choose, how many shades the patients want to lighten their smile, and other factors. In general, it typically takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The following is a review of professional teeth whitening and how long the process takes.

What is the longest lasting teeth whitening? ›

Chairside bleaching (in-office tooth whitening)

If you maintain good oral hygiene, a chairside (or in-office) procedure should provide long-lasting results for 1 to 3 years. This procedure is done in your dentist's office. It usually requires only one visit.

Is cosmetic teeth whitening worth it? ›

As a result, you may wonder if professional tooth whitening is worth the cost. Lots of patients are curious about in-office treatment and ask if it is really better than at-home options. The answer is a resounding yes. The most effective way to whiten teeth is with a professional in-office treatment.

How do most celebrities whiten their teeth? ›

The most common and effective ways to get a whiter smile, just like the celebrities, are not through at-home whitening treatments. In fact, they can often be a waste of money. Most celebrities opt for regular teeth whitening treatments or veneers.

Do whitened teeth look fake? ›

This is a common concern, but we can assure you that professional teeth whitening treatment won't make your teeth look unnaturally white. If you've seen people whose teeth look too white to be natural, you're probably seeing their veneers, not their real teeth.

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