A Question of Teeth Whitening: 5 Answers to 5 Important Teeth Whitening Questions

If you are going to whiten your teeth without the help of a dentist, it's important that you do your research before getting started. There are many seemingly minor details that could catch you out if you are not prepared.

Here are 5 of the most common patient queries, along with their answers to help you get started on your whitening journey.

1. Once you have whitened you teeth, can you eat straight away?

It is usually best to wait at least one hour before eating something. You should also try to stick to non-coloured foods and liquids for 24 hours. This applies to both whitening strips and tray-based whitening. Doing this will help to prevent staining.

2. Should you protect your gums when whitening your teeth?

If you are whitening your teeth with over-the-counter whitening trays, there is a risk that the whitening gel could splash onto your gums. This may cause some irritation. To protect your gums, apply some vitamin E oil, which can be bought at a nearby pharmacy, to your gums as close to the teeth as possible.

You can also use Vaseline if you are unable to purchase vitamin E oil.

3. Do whitening gel or whitening strips need to be refrigerated?

Refrigeration of your gel or strips is not a requirement per say. However, storing them in a refrigerator when not in use can help to prolong their shelf life. Remember, too, that heat activates whitening gel so you should keep whitening strips and gel away from sunlight and hot areas of your home.

4. Does whitening gel expire? If so, can you still use it?

Yes, whitening gel does expire. Check the expiry date on the box if you are using an old whitening kit or box of whitening strips. In general, they may last a year, but you can extend this period by keeping them refrigerated. Over time, the main whitening ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, turns into water and oxygen and so will be all but useless.

Check the consistency of whitening gel before using it if you suspect it has expired. If it is cloudy white in colour, then it is expired and will be ineffective.

5. Can I smoke while wearing whitening strips?

Smoking dries out your mouth. This will cause the strips to fall off your teeth, rendering them useless. Because of this, it is not advisable to smoke while using whitening strips.

Contact a dentist for additional advice.