Teeth whitening procedures are among the most popular of all in-office dental procedures. They result in a brighter and healthier smile, that can boost your self-confidence to sky-high levels. Unfortunately, the teeth whitening results do not last forever and can be easily reversed due to habits like smoking, coffee drinking, and dietary choices.
Reversal of teeth whitening can be unpleasant to experience as it is a time consuming and expensive dental procedure. For this reason, it is a great idea to adopt healthy habits to preserve the effects of the teeth whitening procedure for as long as possible.
What are the potential risks after a teeth whitening procedure?
Teeth are the hardest structure in the human body. They consist of multiple layers – with enamel being the hardest, outermost layer encapsulating and protecting the softer the dentin layer.
A person feels tooth sensitivity when dentin is exposed due to mechanical injury or chemical erosion of the tooth enamel. Below are certain side effects which may manifest post tooth whitening procedure:
- Exposing the dentin layer: Hydrogen Peroxide is the main component used in most teeth whitening processes, but this chemical can lead to a temporary exposure of the dentin if overused or used for too long. Once dentin is exposed it can lead to sensitivity of the teeth and increases the probability of discoloration.
- Gum irritation:Gum irritation and gum sensitivity are common side effects of the tooth whitening process. Although the procedure does not result in permanent damage to the gum tissue, it is advisable to gently treat the gums post-procedure.
What can cause tooth discoloration?
Some foods contain certain substances that are responsible for tooth discoloration – these include acids, chromogens, and tannins (tannins are found in tea). These components can easily cause staining of the enamel or may leave the enamel fragile, which gives an easy passage for these components for settling on the tooth surface.
Hence, it is advisable to refrain from foods containing these components for a minimum period of 48 hours post tooth bleaching.
Five cumulative studies have been conducted to understand the effect of the kind of food consumed pre, post, and during the tooth whitening process. These studies were approved by the Institutional Review Board at Indiana University and Purdue University in Indianapolis.
The results were analyzed and it was concluded that participants who did not adhere to a suitable diet before undertaking tooth whitening procedures observed a striking negative color change. These studies also concluded that the intake of foods and drinks which are not categorized as white did not affect the tooth whitening process.
One clinical trial was conducted to assess the effect of cola based drinks on teeth post-dental bleaching process. The results revealed that even though consumption of cola-based drinks did not affect the whitening process, the threshold of bleaching induced tooth sensitivity was observed to a greater extent, so steer clear of colas.
Which foods and drinks should be avoided post tooth whitening process?
Sticking to the white diet is the best approach post-whitening procedure; however, there are certain food types that should be avoided. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable to refrain from foods that can stain white fabric.
Below is the list of such foods that should be strictly avoided post-whitening procedure.
- Foods that are dark in color: Certain foods like beetroot, blueberries, dark chocolate, and certain dark-colored sauces should be completely avoided and should be replaced with white sauces. For instance, if you want pasta (and who doesn’t!) then it is a good option to switch from red pasta sauces like Ragu to white pasta sauces like a carbonara. Also, if at times it is unavoidable to eat dark-colored sauces then it is better to consume lots of green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, or broccoli with the sauce. These vegetables, when consumed in raw form have the potential to remove the staining caused due to consumption of red-colored foods.
- Dark-colored beverages: Drinks like tea and coffee are loaded with caffeine which can result in stains on teeth. Even red wine should be completely avoided post-whitening procedure.
- Foods and drinks acidic in nature: Even though fruits are considered to be some of the healthiest food options, acidic fruits like grapes, lemons, and oranges are particularly low in pH concentration which once consumed increases the acidic nature of saliva. Highly acidic saliva has the potential to further harm the enamel which has been previously weakened by the tooth bleaching process.
- Vinegar: Standard table vinegar which is commonly used as a salad dressing should be avoided because of its highly acidic nature. Consider switching out to apple cider vinegar which can actually help to whiten teeth in some cases.