6 Key Factors That Can Make or Break Your Teeth Whitening Treatment

Factors that go into teeth whitening treatment

Getting the Most Out of Your Teeth Whitening Treatment

Our smiles are a huge part of the way we interact with the world — they completely transcend language barriers, and they’re such an inherent trait that we smile even in the womb! Since they play such a huge role in the way we present ourselves to others, it makes sense that we want our smiles to be beautiful. 

For most of us, an important feature of a beautiful smile is a bright, white appearance. Our teeth tend to become stained over time due to a range of common factors like diet, daily habits, and even aging, so many of us take steps like teeth whitening to restore and nurture the natural beauty of our smiles.

Since a teeth whitening treatment is a pretty common procedure, there are many methods you can use at home and at your dentist’s office to brighten your teeth and bring out your smile’s natural beauty. When you’re considering getting a teeth whitening treatment, however, several factors can impact its success. Being aware of these factors can help you choose the right whitening method for you as well as play a role in ensuring you get the most from your teeth whitening treatment. 

We want to make sure that you love your results, so we’ve done our part to help you build your knowledge by explaining different types of tooth stains and compiling six key factors that can make or break your teeth whitening. 

Types and Causes of Stains

Before we dive in, it’s important to know what type of stain is on your teeth when you choose a teeth whitening method, as this impacts which treatment method will likely work best for you. There are three main types of tooth stains, including extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related stains. 

Extrinsic stains are discolorations that develop on the outside surface of your tooth. They’re often caused by lifestyle factors like diet and any form of tobacco use. If you drink a lot of tea, coffee, or soda, or if you smoke, this is likely the primary type of staining on your teeth, but the good news is that it’s easy to treat!

In contrast, intrinsic stains are discolorations that develop on the interior of your tooth, within the tooth enamel itself. This type of stain has a range of causes like too much fluoride in childhood, dental injuries, or the use of certain medications, and it responds best to professional teeth whitening treatments.

Finally, age-related stains simply develop as you get older because enamel thins as you age, allowing more of the naturally yellow dentin to show through it. Your dentin also yellows as you age, which furthers this staining process. Thankfully, at-home and professional whitening techniques can both improve age-related stains.

Factors that Affect Teeth Whitening Results

Even once you know what type of tooth discolorations you’re likely dealing with, there are still several factors that affect the outcome of teeth bleaching. Understanding them can help you know what to expect from your teeth whitening treatment and can help you choose the best treatment for you. 

Original Teeth Color

The color of your teeth before your whitening treatment has a huge impact on the success of your teeth whitening treatment. Teeth that are stained more of a yellowish color tend to respond best to whitening, but those with a brown or gray tint are often harder to bleach. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though! It simply means that they’ll likely need more treatments before they reach the bright, white shade you’re looking for.

Type of Whitening Treatment

While there are many different options out there for whitening your teeth, which option you choose will impact your results, from how dramatic they are to how quickly you see a significant change in your smile’s appearance.

 In-office professional teeth whitening treatments whiten your teeth by multiple shades in a single visit to the dentist, but you can also get professional whitening treatments to use in the comfort of your home. These provide the stunning results of professional whitening treatments, but generally over several applications instead of just one. 

Both types of professional treatments have a range of benefits, including the fact that they’re effective for any type of staining, including difficult stains that won’t respond to over-the-counter treatments, and provide more dramatic, faster, and consistent results that tend to last longer with fewer touch-ups.

In contrast, over-the-counter options are more budget-friendly and often whiten your teeth gradually over multiple applications. These teeth whitening treatments aren’t as strong as those you receive directly from your dentist, so if your teeth are starting out a darker shade, this might mean a longer wait time to get your ideal smile. 

They also don’t work as well as professional treatments on intrinsic stains, so it’s a good idea to choose your teeth whitening treatment based on the severity and type of stain you’re dealing with as well as how much of a difference you’re looking for. If you’re unsure, you can always ask your dentist which whitening method is best for you. With a little patience, you can have the smile of your dreams!

Condition of Your Teeth  

If you want the best possible results from your teeth whitening, your teeth need to be in good condition. Your teeth should be healthy before they undergo whitening, but they also need to be recently cleaned and clear of plaque buildup to allow the whitening agent to fully—and evenly—penetrate the surface of your teeth. 

This is why it’s a good idea to schedule a dental appointment for a professional cleaning before you whiten your teeth. If you have cavities or damaged teeth, you’ll likely need to treat them before you whiten your teeth as well. Not only will this ensure that your oral health is in as great condition as it can be, but it will prevent these issues from impacting the appearance of your smile, helping ensure that your newly bright smile is as beautiful as possible.

Dental Restorations

If you have dental restorations such as a dental crown, veneer, or dental implants, the shade of your restoration will not be changed by your whitening treatment. This means that while your teeth become brighter, the color of these restorations will stay the same. This can make them stand out more and potentially harm the overall results of your teeth whitening. 

If you need a dental restoration and think you might want your teeth whitened at some point, we recommend going for it right away—before you choose the shade of your new restoration. This ensures that it will match the rest of your white smile, creating a smile you truly love. Plus, if you need a tooth whitening treatment again down the road, your restorations are already the right shade 


Your teeth change a lot as you age, so how old you are also has a big effect on teeth whitening. This is true for older patients due to the thinning of enamel and yellowing of dentin, but it’s particularly true for kids. Many teeth whitening treatments simply aren’t recommended for them because their teeth are still developing and growing. 

Whitening their teeth now can cause permanent changes, making the shade of their teeth uneven in the future—meaning that their teeth might not all be the same shade. As a result, when it comes to whitening a child’s teeth, it’s especially vital to schedule an appointment with their dentist and discuss the best options first to ensure that the method you choose is not just effective, but healthy.

Treatment Duration

The duration of your teeth whitening treatment is often determined, at least in part, by the strength of the whitening formula as well as how much of a difference in shade you’re looking to achieve. While in-office professional treatments often provide results in a single application, at-home professional and over-the-counter treatments usually require repeated applications over the course of a few weeks. With these types of treatments, you’ll generally see a more noticeable difference the longer your treatment continues. 

Overusing these treatments can cause more tooth sensitivity or damage your enamel, though, so make sure that you follow the directions from your dentist or the box on over-the-counter products. Doing so ensures that you get the best results possible, earning a smile that’s as beautiful as it is healthy!

Find Your Ideal Whitening Treatment by Talking to Your Dentist

When all is said and done, teeth whitening treatments are a safe and reliable way to restore the bright, natural beauty of your smile. With so many treatment options available, you’re bound to find a method that provides the results you want while meeting all your other treatment needs. If you’d like to learn more about teeth whitening, which method is best for you, or what you can do to ensure that you get the most out of your treatment, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dixon, Boles & Associates in Wilson, NC. 

Dixon Boles & Associates