Teeth whitening enhances your appearance, giving you a lovely smile. It also boosts your self-confidence, takes years off your face, makes you seem friendlier, and can even improve your dating and professional life. Teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, and other chemicals that bleach the stained areas.
How long after teeth whitening can I eat normally? For the first 48 hours following teeth whitening, you should take care of what you eat, as food will affect the success of the whitening procedure. This is because the enamel is expanded during the whitening process to make it porous enough for the bleach to get in. The porous enamel is susceptible to potentially staining foods and will absorb pigments from the food.
Other than avoiding food that can cause discoloration, you should also avoid hot and cold foods since the exposed dentine is sensitive. Dentine is also susceptible to bacteria and decay. Here are tips on what to eat and what not to eat after teeth whitening.
What Not to Eat After Teeth Whitening
The main food components that darken your teeth are tannins, chromogens, and acids. These are found in many of our daily foods, and you should, therefore, be careful with your choice of food. Foods and drinks to avoid include:
- Coffee: Avoid coffee in all its forms. Coffee contains acidic polyphenols called tannins which are caustic to the enamel. Your body will also appreciate the break from caffeine.
- Alcohol: The same way your dress or shirt stains when red wine pours on it is the same way your teeth will stain when you take red wine. A hearty glass of Cabernet will give your teeth a garnet hue. Other than red wine and dark beers, other alcoholic drinks should also be avoided immediately after teeth whitening since they are acidic and will attach to the enamel. Note that even white wine will leave a residue on your enamel.
- Soda: There are several reasons to avoid soda after teeth whitening. Soda contains artificial colouring, is acidic due to the carbonation process, and has high sugar content. If you cannot do without a soda, go for club soda and drink it with a straw.
- Tomato sauce: Tomato sauce has a red colouring that will leave a mark on newly whitened teeth. Tomato sauce is also acidic. Your love for spaghetti and marinara should not undo the good work done by the dentist. You should also avoid other dark condiments like soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Consider switching to a white cream sauce.
- Dark-coloured fruits: Whitened teeth are a blank canvas, and blueberries will stain them due to their blue colour. You should also avoid grapes and grape juice, beets, raspberries, pomegranates, cherries, and blackberries, particularly when they are freshly ripe. The general rule should be that any fruit or vegetable that stains your shirt should not be eaten post-whitening.
- Dark-coloured vegetables: Avoid vegetables that have a lot of pigments. These include purple cabbage, carrots, spinach, kales, and other dark, leafy greens.
- Candy: Refined sugars found in candies can cause discoloration, erosion, and decay of the enamel. Just think of how your tongue changes colour after eating sweets and imagine what they can do to your teeth post-whitening.
- Chocolate: But canI eat chocolate after teeth whitening? Chocolate, just like candies, contains artificial colours that will cause staining.
- Black teas: Despite popular belief, tea is actually worse for the colour of your teeth than coffee because it has high levels of stain-causing tannins.
- Tobacco: You should avoid smoking or chewing tobacco to avoid ‘smokers’ teeth’. Doing away with tobacco altogether will help keep your teeth white for longer.
- Spices: Curry stains pans and pots; just imagine what it will do to your teeth. Other spices to avoid are turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and other brightly coloured spices.
- Red vinegar: Anything with red vinegar like red vinaigrette and balsamic dressing should be avoided.
- Sugary foods: Avoid sugary foods like ice cream, cakes, and cookies because they can cause tooth irritation and possibly discoloration after whitening. Sugar also triggers decay-causing bacteria.
What to Eat After Teeth Whitening
Luckily, you don’t have to completely give up food for the 48 hours following teeth whitening – you just have to be careful with your food choice. An all-white diet after teeth whitening is recommended to reduce colouring. Examples of foods you can still enjoy include:
- Tofu, fish, chicken, and turkey: Light, lean white meat is a good source of protein and is good for your freshly whitened teeth. You, however, have to ensure that you do not use any sauces and seasonings that are too vibrant – instead, stick to white sauces. Avoid darker fishes in favour of white fish like albacore.
- Pasta, rice, and bread: Pasta, rice, and bread are a good source of carbohydrates immediately after tooth whitening. Ensure the pasta and bread do not list food colouring or molasses among the ingredients. This is usually done to give pasta and bread an artificially darker appearance. However, eat these carbs in moderation as excess consumption can prompt cavities.
- White cheese and plain yogurt: Use white cheeses and plain yogurt in place of artificially coloured cheeses and flavoured yogurts. Low-fat cheeses are the best.
- Fresh fruits & vegetables: You cannot stay away from fruits and vegetables for the 48 hours. You can eat light-coloured fruits and veggies. You can eat fruits like pears, apples and bananas, and vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, white onions, and mushrooms. Ensure the potatoes are peeled. You can mash them, boil them, or slice them.
- Can I eat eggs after teeth whitening? Eggs are ok, but only eat the whites and ditch the yokes which have colour.
- Milk: Milk is safe after teeth whitening. However, ensure it is either skimmed or low-fat. According to research published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, adding a little milk to your tea can help reduce staining due to the casein in milk.
- Porridge: You can take porridge following tooth whitening, but be careful what goes into it. You can add milk, but do not add sugar. If you like your porridge sweet, you can use a sweetener instead.
- Can I eat avocado after teeth whitening? Avocado is a healthy and filling snack. You can mash it up to make it easier to eat with other foods.
- Cereals: You can take non-sugary cereals with milk. Look at the ingredients to confirm your cereal has no colour additives.
- Water: To quench your thirst, you can drink still water, tonic water, sparkling water, or coconut water. Avoid water that has high fluoride levels and dirty water.
Whichever food you eat, brush your teeth after the meal as per your dentist’s recommendation. Even after the first 48 hours, you owe it to yourself to continue with good eating habits and good dental hygiene, not only for white teeth but also for your general health.
If you are in Bolton or Caledon, come to Smiles on Queen Dentistry for a complimentary consultative session on teeth whitening procedures. We will do a physical evaluation and perhaps even an x-ray and then recommend the best possible solutions for you. We offer in-office teeth whitening procedures where we use our ultrasonic and hand-scaling instruments and do prophylaxis cleaning for the best results. In addition, our experienced team can give you an at-home teeth-whitening kit.