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Teeth whitening is one of our most popular cosmetic dental treatments. It’s a straightforward, affordable treatment for a brighter, whiter, smile. If you are self-conscious about the colour of your teeth, whitening is certainly worth considering. We can remove staining and discolouration, and the colour of your teeth can be lightened by several shades.

There are many products and techniques for teeth whitening so it’s essential to understand the process and potential outcomes. Not all whitening methods are created equal. As with any dental treatment, expert advice should be taken when making a decision about which is best for you.

In this blog post, we answer the most frequently asked questions about teeth whitening, starting with the most common one: “How long will it take to whiten my teeth?”

1. How long will it take to whiten my teeth?

The time it takes to whiten your teeth depends on several factors, including the whitening method used, the current shade of your teeth, and how consistently you follow the treatment.

In your initial consultation, we will explain the process we use and estimate how long it will take to get results. However, for other teeth whitening methods, here’s a breakdown of the typical timelines:

Shop-bought whitening toothpaste

Timeline: several months

Over-the-counter whitening toothpaste typically contains mild abrasives and small amounts of bleaching agents such as silica, pyrophosphates, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. They can help to reduce surface stains over time, but are less effective at changing the overall colour of your teeth. Results are gradual and may take several months of consistent use to become noticeable.

Over-the-counter whitening kits

Timeline: 2 to 4 weeks

Shop-bought whitening strips, gels, and kits generally contain similar bleaching agents to those in professional products, but in much lower concentrations. They can whiten teeth, but it takes longer and the results may not be dramatic. Staining and discolouration may be reduced, but you may not achieve a bright, pearly-white smile. Consistency is key, and if you choose this method, follow the instructions carefully for the best outcome.

Professional teeth whitening treatment at a dentist

Timeline: 1 to 2 weeks

Professional teeth whitening systems using custom-fitted trays with high-grade whitening gels provide the fastest and most complete results. These are available at some dental clinics, like Indigo Dental in Wortley, north Leeds. Patients typically wear the trays for a few hours daily or overnight, with noticeable whitening results appearing after only a week.

2. What factors affect how long teeth whitening takes?

Several things can influence the effectiveness and speed of teeth whitening. These factors include:

Your initial tooth colour

Teeth with yellowish hues tend to respond better to whitening than those with brown or grey shades.

The type of staining

Surface stains from food, drinks, and smoking are easier to remove than intrinsic stains caused by medications or trauma.

Your age

Younger teeth usually whiten more quickly, since the enamel is less worn and the dentin less exposed.

Your oral hygiene

Good oral hygiene can enhance the efficacy of whitening treatments, in terms of both speed and results.

Consistency of use

Regular and accurate use of the whitening product as directed will lead to faster and brighter results.

3. How long will my teeth whitening last?

The longevity of the results of whitening also varies from person to person. This depends on individual habits, the type of treatment, and condition of the teeth. Here are some factors to consider:

Professional treatments

The results of professional teeth whitening treatment by a dentist can last from one to three years, depending on your lifestyle choices.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products

Results may last up to a year, with regular touch-ups required to maintain brightness.

Whitening toothpaste

Continuous use is necessary to maintain results, as these products primarily prevent new stains rather than significantly whitening teeth.

4. How can I make my teeth whitening results last longer?

To prolong the effects of your teeth whitening, consider the following tips:

Avoid staining foods and drinks

Limit consumption of coffee, tea, red wine, and dark berries.

Quit smoking

Tobacco significantly stains teeth.

Practise good oral hygiene

Brush twice daily, floss regularly, and use a whitening toothpaste.

Have regular dental check-ups

Regular professional cleaning by a qualified hygienist will help maintain oral health and prevent staining.

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5. Is teeth whitening safe?

Yes, teeth whitening is safe when performed correctly by a dentist. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

Professional supervision

Whitening treatments under the supervision of a dentist are the safest and most effective way to get a good outcome. Your dentist can monitor progress and adjust treatment as needed.


Some people experience tooth sensitivity or gum irritation during and after whitening. Using products with lower concentrations of bleaching agents or desensitising toothpaste can help mitigate these effects. Your dentist will also be able to help if you suffer from sensitivity.


Excessive use of whitening products can damage tooth enamel and gums. It’s essential to follow guidelines and not overuse these products.

6. What should I expect during the whitening process?

At Indigo Dental we use a system called Boutique Whitening, which uses the most powerful teeth whitening formula on the market.

We begin with a free consultation to discuss your expectations and smile goals. We will assess your teeth using a whitening shade guide. The consultation includes a complimentary digital scan and clinical photographs. This ensures a thorough whitening process and allows us to track your progress.

Once we have explained the process and answered your questions, we’ll let you make your final decision. If you decide to go ahead, we’ll create your custom-made trays. You’ll wear these for either a few hours or overnight, depending on the formula you choose. The process is safe and efficient, with visible results in under a week.

Final thoughts

Teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to brighten your smile, provided you choose the right method and follow professional advice.

The time it takes to see results varies dependent on your chosen method, initial tooth condition, and consistency in following the treatment regimen. Whether you choose professional in-clinic teeth whitening or over-the-counter products, understanding the process and managing expectations are key to achieving a bright, confident smile.

By maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding staining, and seeking regular dental care, you can prolong the effects of teeth whitening and enjoy a radiant smile for years to come.

If you have any doubts or specific dental concerns, consulting your dentist will ensure that you choose the best whitening method available to you. Contact one of our friendly team for a no-obligation consultation on teeth whitening.

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