Teeth whitening is an excellent way to achieve the pearly whites of your dreams — but like every other dental treatment, its effects do not last forever and require consistency to prolong longevity.
On average, in-chair teeth whitening lasts about 2-3 years. But you CAN have whiter teeth longer by listening to your dentist’s instructions and doing your own touch-up whitening at home or in the clinic. Here’s the rundown.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to lighten its colour. It doesn’t turn your teeth completely brilliant white, but it can lighten your teeth by several shades at a time.
How is teeth whitening done?
Professional whitening can be done in a dentist’s office in about an hour. The dentist will apply a teeth whitening gel containing about 25-40% hydrogen peroxide, then aim a special heating lamp at your teeth for 3 20-minute intervals, and then reapply the gel between intervals. Some dentists may also use lasers, which can accelerate or activate the whitening process. A protective barrier will be used to keep your lips, gums and tongue away from the whitening gel so that it stays on your teeth.
Your dentist will normally give you whitening trays moulded specifically your teeth so that you can make follow-up touches at home with bleaching solutions.
Can I whiten my own teeth at home?
While there are cheaper options in the market, they’re not necessarily safe or effective. If the product contains a high amount of some active ingredient that is prohibited, you may very well end up doing more damage to your teeth than you would be without the whitening treatment. So, don’t scrimp and save when it comes to your teeth – it’s just not worth it.
In a budget treatment that you may buy from online retailers or a store, there are two common ingredients in teeth whitening treatments – hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. If the percentage is too high or if you use them for too long, they could be damaging to your teeth.
The allowed percentage is a mere 0.1%, but the products you find outside contain an average of 3% 1, way more than should be allowed. This poses a real risk to your oral health and is something you want to take note of.
Many patients also tend to put on their whitening strips longer than instructed; this is not only unnecessary but also unsafe. Studies have shown that excessive use of peroxide-based products damages enamel, leading to more teeth discolouration, sensitivity and also pain.2
You can find a wide range of home whitening kits between the price of $13 to $60. Just remember to check whether they contain potentially harmful amounts of peroxide. Also, keep in mind that these treatments may not do very much for your stained teeth if your condition is already bad.
For these reasons, I highly recommend in-chair whitening at your dentist.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening can last about 2-3 years varying from person to person, but you can prolong its longevity by carrying out some simple steps. It includes avoiding things that stain your teeth, such as:
- Dark liquids like red wine, coffee and tea
- Staining foods like beetroot and berries
Other things you can do to ensure your teeth stay sparkling is to touch-up your teeth regularly using the bleaching solutions and techniques that the dentist has taught you.
Of course, these are on top of the everyday hygiene of brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Remember to go to the dentist for regular appointments to get your teeth checked too.
Who is teeth whitening not suitable for?
Teeth whitening is not suitable for those with:
- Intrinsic stains which are deep within in the teeth (usually grey or purple toned)
- Cracks or other trauma to your teeth that leaves dentin exposed
- Tooth decay or severe gingitivis
- On-going orthodontic treatment (however, you may wish to go for whitening after it is complete)
How much does teeth whitening cost in Singapore?
During an in-chair whitening process, your dentist will perform an oral examination to make sure you are a suitable candidate, such that using a high percentage of peroxide on your teeth will not cause you any problems.
The cost of in-chair whitening in Singapore ranges between $800 and $1300. You often only need a single session to see the results.
They are also likely to recommend some at-home whitening kits to make touch-ups at home. So, if you’re considering doing teeth whitening by yourself at home, try asking your dentist next time. They are more likely to recommend whitening kits that actually work or that are safe for whatever conditions you have with your teeth. Getting professional advice is worth every cent, that we’re sure.
For prescribed at-home whitening kits from the dentist, prices range from $400 to $600 and often require you to repeat usage for 30 to 60 minutes daily for 2 weeks.
Your pearly whites can last for long if you go for in-chair whitening and then do touch-up whitening at home, and go for dental appointments regularly to get your teeth checked. Remember to avoid food and drinks that can stain your teeth. Brush and floss regularly and you’re good to go!
- Cvikl, B., Lussi, A., Moritz, A., & Flury, S. (2016). Enamel surface changes after exposure to bleaching gels containing carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Operative dentistry, 41(1), E39-E47.