What to Do Before Getting Your Teeth Whitened: A Guide

Written by Dr. Reuben Sim
Published: 10-02-2023

Teeth Whitening

Are you looking for whiter, brighter teeth? Perhaps you’ve been living with stained or discoloured teeth that have been impacting your confidence and smile.

One treatment you should consider is professional teeth whitening.

In this helpful guide, we’ll run you through what to do before getting your teeth whitened so you know what to expect.

How to prepare for teeth whitening

To get the best, safest results from your teeth whitening treatment, it’s crucial you know what to do before getting your teeth whitened.

The right teeth whitening preparation can help you get the best possible results, and avoid unnecessary pain, discomfort or cost.

Below we’ll unpack five things you should do before getting your teeth whitened, and why.

Consult with your dentist to see if teeth whitening is right for you

If you’ve decided you’d like to whiten your teeth, the first thing you should do before getting your teeth whitened is to book a consultation with your dentist to confirm whether this treatment is right for you.

Your dentist will assess the health of your teeth and gums to determine whether your oral health is in a stable condition and won’t be impacted by a teeth whitening treatment.

Gum health

If you suffer from gingivitis or inflamed gums, this should be addressed before any teeth whitening takes place.

The solution used to whiten teeth may cause irritation to your gums, therefore if your gums are already sensitive or inflamed, the procedure may be unnecessarily uncomfortable.

It’s best to treat any pre-existing conditions before getting your teeth whitened.

Tooth health

Equally, getting your teeth whitened when you have a broken tooth, leaking filling or untreated cavity can cause pain during your teeth whitening treatment.

To avoid the whitening solution coming in contact with a nerve or sensitive area, your dentist will recommend you address any pre-existing issues before getting your teeth whitened to prevent any unnecessary pain or damage from occurring.

Dental bonding and tooth-coloured fillings

As part of the teeth whitening preparation, your dentist should assess whether you have any dental bonding or tooth-coloured fillings.

While the whitening solution will whiten the shades of your teeth, it will not whiten any dental bonding or fillings.

This will only be a problem if the fillings or dental bonding have been colour matched to your existing tooth shade and would obviously stand out after a teeth whitening procedure.

If you do have tooth-coloured dental bonding or fillings that would not match your chosen whiter shade, you may need to replace the dental bonding or fillings to achieve a consistent shade across your teeth.

Decide on the shade you are after

Decide on the shade you’re after

Once your dentist has given you the ‘okay’ to move forward with the treatment, the next thing to do before getting your teeth whitened is to choose the shade you’d like to achieve.

A good way of doing this is to share photo inspiration with your dentist.

They’ll then assess whether the shade will match your complexion and let you know how many sessions it may take to achieve your desired shade.

This will usually be determined by the current colour of your teeth. The more discoloured your teeth are, the more treatments you may need if your desired shade is far from your starting point.

When it comes to teeth whitening, it’s important to not overdo it in one session. This may cause unnecessary pain and discomfort in your gums and sensitivity in your teeth.

If your desired shade is close to your current shade, it’s more than likely that you’ll be able to achieve it with one whitening treatment.

Book in a professional teeth cleaning session

One question we frequently get asked is, ‘Should I get my teeth cleaned before whitening?’

When you’re considering what to do before getting your teeth whitened, a professional clean should be on your to-do list.

This is because plaque may impact the success of your teeth whitening treatment.

Plaque is a residue that builds up on your teeth after you eat and drink that is usually removed by flossing and brushing.

However, if you’ve skipped a few brushes or flosses here and there, plaque can harden and become tartar.

This may lead to gingivitis or cavities, which can no longer be treated through brushing and flossing alone.

Instead, you’ll need a professional clean to successfully remove any build-up.

It’s a good idea to do this before getting your teeth whitened, as plaque and tartar build-up may interfere with the results of your teeth whitening process.

Desensitise your teeth

One in eight people have been found to suffer from dentin hypersensitivity. Whether you’re that one in eight or not, your teeth may feel more sensitive after your teeth whitening treatment.

Therefore, you should begin desensitising your teeth before getting your teeth whitened.

You can do this by switching your regular toothpaste with a desensitising toothpaste.

These toothpastes help block pain signals from your tooth to your nerves, so you won’t have the sensation of pain or discomfort.

It’s a good idea to use a desensitising toothpaste in the two weeks leading up to your teeth whitening appointment so you can feel its full effect.

If you aren’t sure which toothpaste to choose, consult with your dentist and ask them for their recommendation.

Take extra care

The best thing to do before getting your teeth whitened is to take extra care in the weeks leading up to your treatment.

If you use a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush, swap it out for an extra soft-bristled toothbrush that will be more gentle on your gums. This will help prevent any gum inflammation that may affect your teeth whitening experience or treatment.

You should also brush and floss more regularly to ensure your teeth remain clean. This helps prevent any bacteria from festering and causing any damage to your teeth and gums before your teeth whitening treatment.

How to dry teeth before whitening

If you are getting your teeth professionally whitened at your trusted dentist, you won’t have to worry about drying your teeth before your appointment.

However, if you have purchased a dentist-approved whitening kit, then you will need to dry your teeth just before you apply the whitening tray or strips.

The best way to dry your teeth before whitening is to use a towel, napkin or paper towel to wipe away any saliva from your teeth and gums.

Make sure to do this gently so as to not irritate or inflame your gums, as that will make the teeth whitening process very uncomfortable.

Do you brush your teeth before whitening?

0N2A0176If you’re wondering what to do before getting your teeth whitened and brushing your pearly whites comes to mind, then you’re on the right track.

Brushing and flossing your teeth before a teeth whitening treatment is a good idea. But you have to make sure you allow ample time for your gums to recover from any potential irritation.

The bristles from your toothbrush may irritate and cause inflammation in the gums, as can flossing.

If you arrive at your teeth whitening treatment with inflamed or irritated gums, you’re going to experience some pain and discomfort when the solution is applied.

That’s why we recommend brushing your teeth one hour before your teeth whitening procedure to ensure any inflammation or irritation has a chance to settle and soothe before your appointment.

Can you eat before teeth whitening?

People often think that they can’t eat before getting their teeth whitened.

While you shouldn’t eat straight before your appointment, it’s okay to eat one or so hours before your teeth whitening treatment has been booked.

And because a session usually lasts around one hour, eating before your treatment may help curve any hunger during or immediately after your session.

If you do have a snack or meal before your treatment, make sure to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth afterwards.

Remember to give your gums ample time to recover from any irritation or inflammation that may have been caused by brushing and flossing, and avoid any vigorous cleaning.

Can you eat after teeth whitening?

While many people think about what to do before getting their teeth whitened, it’s equally important to consider what to do after.

Your dentist should run you through any after-care instructions, which will likely include staying away from any foods, beverages or substances that are acidic, sugary or have the potential to stain your teeth for 48 hours after your teeth whitening treatment.

This is often referred to as the ‘white diet’. A white diet consists of eating light or white foods like poultry, rice, egg whites, potatoes, bananas, porridge and yoghurt.

During this time, you should avoid foods or beverages like red wine, soft drinks, soy sauce, tomatoes, sugar, fruit juice, raspberries, coffee and chocolate.

If you smoke daily, it’s best to refrain from smoking during this period too. You may find relief in Nicotine gum or patches to curb your cravings and avoid any staining or damage to your newly whitened teeth.

The takeaway

If you’re looking to brighten your teeth and fall back in love with your smile, then teeth whitening may be the treatment for you.

But it’s important you know what to do before getting your teeth whitened to avoid any unnecessary pain, discomfort or costs.

Always make sure to consult a trusted dentist first to assess whether your oral health is in a good condition.

Once you have the green flag from your dentist, land on your desired shade and book yourself in for a professional teeth cleaning to make sure no plaque or tartar interferes with your treatment.

Then, maintain your oral hygiene in the weeks leading up to your appointment and use desensitising toothpaste to prevent any tooth sensitivity after your whitening treatment.

If you have further questions about what to do before getting your teeth whitened, or you’d like to make an appointment to see if teeth whitening is right for you, contact our friendly team today.