Teeth whitening treatments have become increasingly popular for people looking to enhance their smiles. However, in order to maximize results and avoid potential sensitivities, it’s important to properly prep your teeth first. A key recommendation is to dry teeth thoroughly before applying whitening gel or strips. This complete guide will cover why drying is essential, techniques for drying teeth effectively, using whitening strips correctly, what to expect after whitening and tips for maintaining your bright smile.

Drying your teeth prior to any whitening procedure helps the product work more efficiently. Here are some tips for properly drying teeth before applying whitener:

  • Clean your teeth by brushing and flossing first. This removes plaque and debris that could interfere with the whitening agent contacting your teeth.
  • Avoid using toothpaste when brushing, especially those with fluoride, right before whitening. The ingredients can interfere with the whitener.
  • Swish some water after brushing to rinse your mouth. Make sure to spit it all out.
  • Wipe your teeth with a clean, dry washcloth or cotton pad to absorb excess moisture.
  • Use a hair dryer if needed. Set it to the cool setting and hold it several inches from your mouth, drying the teeth for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Blot your teeth gently with an absorbent paper towel or tissue, pressing lightly to soak up the remaining moisture.
  • Let your teeth air dry for 5-10 minutes before applying the whitening product. This allows for maximum dryness.

Drying your teeth thoroughly before using whitening strips can help maximize their effectiveness. Here’s why it’s recommended:

  • Whitening strips adhere better to dry teeth. Moisture can make them slip and slide off the teeth, minimizing contact between the whitening gel and your teeth.
  • Saliva on your teeth can dilute the whitening gel on strips, reducing its potency. Removing moisture minimizes this.
  • Whitening gels work by permeating the pores in your enamel. Saliva fills these pores, so drying helps the gel penetrate better.
  • Whitening products work more efficiently on plaque-free teeth. Brushing and drying prepare your teeth for the whitening agent.

So taking the time to properly dry your teeth first can help the strips whiten your teeth faster and more effectively. Just be gentle when drying to avoid damaging your enamel.

Crest 3D White Whitestrips are some of the most popular strip-style teeth whiteners. Here are some tips for using them correctly:

  • Start with clean, dry teeth. Brush, floss, rinse, and blot dry before applying strips.
  • Know the differences between the treatment sets. Choose Classic, Professional Effects, or Gentle Routine based on your needs.
  • Apply the bottom strip first. Remove the backing and apply the strip sticky-side down, avoiding the gumline. Smooth out air bubbles.
  • Apply the upper strip the same way. Make sure the strips line up evenly.
  • Keep your mouth open and lips relaxed while the strips are on. No drinking, eating, or talking.
  • Leave strips on for 30-60 minutes depending on product directions. Set a timer and don’t exceed the recommended time.
  • Remove the strips gently. Start from the corners and peel downwards. Toss them away after a single use.
  • Rinse away any gel residue left on your teeth but avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes.

For optimal results, use Crest Whitestrips consistently over a 10-14 day period, applying them twice daily. Always follow the directions for your specific product.

It’s best to avoid heavily colored foods and beverages for at least 48 hours after having your teeth whitened. This allows the pores in your enamel to close completely. Here are some tips:

  • Stick to light, bland foods like plain rice, pasta, white bread, scrambled eggs, or yogurt. Avoid staining sauces.
  • Drink clear liquids like water or lemon water. Avoid coffee, soda, red wine, or berry juices.
  • Don’t consume any dark-pigmented foods like marinara sauce, soy sauce, curry, berries, chocolate, or tomato-based products.
  • Wait 48 hours before having tea, coffee, red wine, tobacco, or other staining products.
  • Avoid crunchy, sticky, or hard foods that could damage your sensitive teeth after whitening.
  • If you must drink coffee or tea, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.

After 48 hours, you can generally return to eating and drinking normally. Just be mindful of habits that could restain your teeth quickly.

It’s common to experience some tooth sensitivity from the whitening agents. Here are some ways to help desensitize your teeth prior to whitening:

  • Use a desensitizing toothpaste for 2-4 weeks before whitening. These contain compounds like potassium nitrate to reduce sensitivity.
  • Apply a desensitizing gel or liquid agent to your teeth 30 minutes prior to whitening. These temporarily block sensitivity on your enamel.
  • Discuss over-the-counter pain relievers with your dentist. An anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen can help.
  • Undergo a fluoride treatment to strengthen your enamel and make it less porous before whitening.
  • If you have existing sensitivity, get it treated by your dentist first before whitening.
  • Request your dentist use a lower-concentration whitening gel customized for sensitive teeth.
  • Consider alternative whitening options like paint-on gel or strips, which cause less sensitivity than trays.

Desensitizing your teeth as much as possible before any whitening treatment can help minimize discomfort and make the process more pleasant.

It’s best to avoid swallowing any of the whitening gel during treatment, as ingesting peroxide can be harmful. Here are some tips:

  • Use whitening trays that fit your teeth snugly to minimize gel leakage.
  • Start with a low-concentration whitening gel if you have a strong salivary response.
  • Apply just a thin layer of gel needed to cover the teeth to limit excess.
  • Spit out any gel that seeps into your mouth but don’t rinse your teeth.
  • If you do accidentally swallow, rinse your mouth out immediately with water.
  • Do not induce swallowing or vomiting if the gel is ingested. Drink milk or eat yogurt, then call your dentist.

Your dentist can provide guidance on the safest whitening method based on your health history and saliva production. But with proper precautions, you can feel confident to whiten your teeth while minimizing gel swallowing risks.

It’s best to avoid drinking water immediately after teeth whitening because:

  • Your tooth enamel remains porous and dehydrated after whitening. Water can seep into the microscopic pores.
  • Water can wash away some of the whitening gel still active on your teeth, diluting the effects.
  • Without giving the whitening time to set in first, water can make the treatment less effective.
  • Sensitivity is common post-whitening. Water touching exposed nerves may exacerbate this.
  • Stained water left on your teeth can be reabsorbed, diminishing the whitening effect.

Most dentists recommend waiting at least 30 minutes to an hour before having any food or drink after whitening. Limit staining foods and beverages for 48 hours. After that, remaining hydrated with plenty of water is great for your oral health.

Here are some tips for caring for your teeth after using whitening trays:

  • Once you remove the trays, resist the urge to brush right away. The whitening gel needs time to fully set.
  • Swish some water in your mouth to rinse away any excess gel, but don’t drink or swallow any. Spit it out.
  • Use a cotton swab if needed to gently dab up leftover gel. Don’t disturb the whitening agent on your teeth.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before brushing. This allows the whitening gel to penetrate and set completely.
  • When you do brush, use a soft brush and be extra gentle. Whitened teeth are highly sensitive.
  • Over the next 24 hours, continue brushing extremely gently. Whitened teeth are susceptible to damage.
  • Avoid staining foods or drinks for 1-2 days while your enamel remains porous.

With the proper care after whitening trays, you can maximize your brightening results while avoiding pain or damage to your sensitive teeth.

While whitening gels are generally safe when used as directed, leaving them on too long can cause the following issues:

  • Tooth Sensitivity – Excessive exposure to whitening gel irritates the nerves in your teeth, resulting in pain and sensitivity that can last for days.
  • Gum Irritation – Whitening gels left on the gums for too long can cause burning, swelling, and blistering of the soft gum tissue.
  • Enamel Weakening – Extended contact between enamel and whitening gel erodes the protective mineral layers of your teeth, making them brittle.
  • Unnatural Whiteness – An overly bright, unnatural tooth color results from over-whitening, what dentists refer to as a “white wall” effect.
  • Relapse Staining – Aggressively over-bleached teeth tend to relapse and re-stain quickly after whitening due to loss of enamel.

To avoid complications, carefully follow the product directions for application time and frequency. More is not necessarily better when it comes to whitening gels. Moderation is crucial for safety and optimal results.

Many people wonder when it’s ideal to brush around their whitening treatment:

# Before Whitening

  • Brushing and flossing remove plaque and debris that can impede the whitening product from contacting your teeth.
  • It is not recommended to brush right before, as abrasives in toothpaste can cause sensitivity. Rinsing with water after brushing is enough to prep your teeth.

# After Whitening

  • Wait 30-60 minutes after whitening before brushing to allow the whitening agent to fully set.
  • When you do brush, use a soft brush with gentle motions. Avoid abrasive toothpaste

The verdict: For maximum whitening results with minimum pain, brush thoroughly before, rinse with water, apply the whitener, then gently brush again an hour later. Time your brushing carefully around the treatment.

There are benefits to whitening your teeth during both morning and night:

# Morning Whitening

  • Your morning routine may make it easier to consistently whiten each day.
  • Whitened teeth all day give you a bright smile right from the start.
  • You can avoid staining foods and drinks right after waking up.

# Night Whitening

  • You may have more time in the evenings for treatments.
  • Enhanced saliva flow while sleeping helps strengthen enamel after whitening.
  • Whitened teeth feel freshly cleaned before bed.

Either morning or night can work well for whitening sessions. Consider when you have more time to spare, and when you’re most likely to maintain the habit consistently.

It’s quite common for teeth to become sensitive during and after whitening due to:

  • Dehydration – Whitening solutions dry out your enamel, exposing dentinal tubules and leading to nerves.
  • Chemical Irritation – Peroxide bleaching agents irritate the pulp tissue inside teeth.
  • Enamel Porosity – Whitening opens pores in enamel that then exposes nerves to air, food, and drink.

Thankfully, the pain is temporary for most people. Take these steps to counter post-whitening discomfort:

  • Use specialized sensitivity toothpaste for several weeks after whitening.
  • Avoid extremely hot or cold foods until sensitivity subsides.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication can temporarily relieve discomfort.
  • Discuss prescription strength fluoride or desensitizing agents with your dentist.
  • If pain persists beyond a few days, get your teeth examined promptly.

While whitening can cause some temporary irritation, working closely with your dentist helps ensure you remain pain-free with a brighter smile.

Here are some tips for keeping your teeth glowing brightly after whitening treatments:

  • Maintain a thorough oral hygiene routine with twice daily brushing and daily flossing.
  • Use whitening toothpaste periodically to help maintain your brightened shade.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking staining foods and beverages.
  • Drink dark-colored drinks like wine or coffee with a straw to avoid teeth contact.
  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months to keep stains at bay.
  • Apply whitening strips or touch-up gels periodically as needed to freshen up your smile.
  • Avoid tobacco products that can re-stain your teeth. Consider quitting smoking.
  • Follow up with your dentist as recommended for whitening maintenance sessions.

Properly caring for your teeth before, during, and after whitening is just as crucial as the treatment itself when it comes to revealing your brightest, most confident smile that lasts.

Useful Links:

Placebo-controlled, 6-week clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of a low-gel, 14% hydrogen-peroxide whitening strip

Effectiveness and Adverse Effects of Over-the-Counter Whitening Products on Dental Tissues

Whitening treatments can be effective on both extrinsic and intrinsic staining.