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Teeth Whitening Expectations: Why are my teeth not bright white after whitening?

Post Teeth Whitening Expectations

Have you ever purchased a tooth-whitening product only to find out it did not make your teeth any whiter? It is possible the product is not as effective as others however the possibility exist that it did work, but your expectations were unrealistic.

Unrealistic personal expectations post teeth whitening along with disregard to follow direction are the main reasons for less than satisfactory tooth whitening results. Given that someone is following the directions, they will get results at some level. Almost anyone with healthy permanent teeth is a candidate of tooth whitening; however consulting with the dentist first is always encouraged. Understand that the maximum shade of white varies per person. Final results reflect the individual’s natural tooth color.

No two teeth are naturally colored the same. Some are fortunate to have naturally bright white teeth while others have a naturally off-white or even yellowish tone.

Teeth whitening will NOT alter the natural color of the tooth, it will however remove all stains and restore the tooth to its natural color when used properly.

The duration and frequency of applications required depend on how stubborn the stain is, how long the stain has been there, and the type of stain. The only way to fully remove all stains is either having it done in office or using custom fitted teeth whitening trays with a carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide based bleaching agent.

Whitening products are designed to release a chemical into tooth enamel and set off a reaction. This reaction allows the chemical to bleach the tooth during the process of oxygenation and diffusion. The oxygenation process causes breakdown of the stain and removal of the debris via diffusion. This process starts on the surface of the tooth and cycles deeper into the tooth tissue. Result of action reflects concentration and time. The longer the stain has been there, the deeper in the tissue the whitening has to diffuse.

A change in two or three shades can make a difference in just about any one’s smile. On average, people typically see a difference of two to seven shades. If you are unhappy with whitening results, did you follow the directions? Are you allowing the tooth to rehydrate before re-staining it? Darkening or relapse of the tooth shade is expected after whitening. Relapse of shade occurs almost immediately as the freshly whitened dehydrated tooth rehydrates. Repetitive prolonged exposure of the chemical is the only way to achieve optimal results.

Whitening is a chemistry proven to work. Just like anything else, if the directions are not followed, the product cannot be expected to produce results.

The most efficient and cost effective whitening method includes custom fitted whitening trays which are designed to keep the oxygen from escaping, increasing exposure time to the bleaching agent. Due to the chemistry it is impossible for this product not to work. These trays can be worn any time of the day as they are barely visible and do not impair speech!

Erin Stelbrink
Erin Stelbrink is a Registered Dental Hygienist with 11+ years of experience as a licensed hygienist and oral health care professional. She holds a passion for researching and acquiring awareness of the latest technologies and methods for providing valuable health care service and clinical treatment. Have more questions? Email Erin at