So you've committed to some form of professional teeth whitening and are the proud new owner of a megawatt smile. You've never been happier flashing those pearly whites on social media. What's the best way to maintain your brand new smile?
Truth be told, it's not so much what you should do, but what you shouldn't! Here are the 5 most important things I tell my patients after teeth whitening:
1. Improve your oral hygiene for maximum results
It's true that your teeth are now whiter, but that doesn't make them bulletproof!
Do not neglect your regular oral care routine. Twice daily brushing and daily flossing help to mechanically keep contaminants and unwanted stains off your newly whitened teeth. This is not only important for maintaining that white smile, but also for long term oral health.
Be careful with strongly coloured toothpaste and mouthwashes for the first 2 days. I'll elaborate further with the next point.
2. Steer clear of strongly coloured foods and drinks
If it looks like it may stain your clothing, it will probably stain your teeth too. After whitening, pores on your tooth enamel may remain open for as long as two days - this makes them especially susceptible to picking up new stains.
Common beverage culprits include coffee, tea, and red wine. As for food, avoid things like carrots and beetroot. For those who enjoy our local flavours, curry and soy sauce are unfortunately on the list of foods to avoid too.
It may sound excessive, but I have even have patients who insist on only eating white foods after the procedure! At the end of the day, moderation is key. Do only what you're comfortable with!
3. Lighting up ruins everything
Obvious health risks aside, cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use will similarly stain the freshly opened pores over the next two days - even more so than on any other regular day.
These stains are already difficult to remove from a normal tooth; imagine if they find their way deep into your pores. Take a break from the smokes, or better yet - use this as a chance to quit altogether!
4. Lipsticks that smudge are no-go
This one is for the ladies. Ever get lipstick smudges on your front teeth? Well by similar logic, this could stain your newly whitened teeth as well!
I'm no authority on this, but I'm told that smudge-proof lipsticks are readily available, so this really should be more of a minor problem.
5. Little touch-ups for better mileage
Sadly, not many things in this world last forever. No whitening method can keep teeth white permanently. Typically, your teeth colour may come back down a few shades over the course of a year or two (depending on your diet and lifestyle).
Don't be afraid to do simple touch-ups with a take-home whitening kit, or even embark on another round of in-office teeth whitening to get your teeth back to the shade you want. Your dentist will be in the best position to advise you on the method and scheduling of this.
These simple tricks should help ensure a more long-lasting white smile. Give them a try and hopefully you wouldn't have to go through all the effort of whitening your teeth, only to have them discolour again prematurely!
Dr Huang Shiming is a dental surgeon at TP Dental. Before joining TP Dental Surgeons as an Associate, he also headed dental clinics in public institutions as Dental Officer-in-charge. Outside of dentistry, Dr Shiming is an avid car enthusiast, unashamed adrenaline junkie and photography hobbyist.