Does Teeth Whitening Last Forever?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

Unfortunately teeth whitening is not permanent so it doesn’t last forever. The shade of your teeth are perpetually in a dynamic state of getting stained and getting whitened at the same time.

spilled glass of red wine

The end result or color of your teeth would be whichever activity that you do more of. If you partake in more staining activities then your teeth will become more yellow. If you abstain from staining activities and do a lot more whitening, your teeth will become whiter.

Yes, it is as precisely as simple as that!

Teeth whitening is not permanent

Teeth whitening will make them whiter by removing existing stains from your teeth. However what it won’t do is prevent future stains from developing and since it lacks this capability, the whitening effect isn’t permanent.

It makes a lot more sense if you understand how the whitening process works. The in-office whitening at your dentist utilizes a chemical agent that can oxidize stains embedded within your teeth.

opalesence whitening gel in a tube

The only chemical agent that can accomplish this is hydrogen peroxide or its derivative. The peroxide diffuses through the tooth while oxidizing all of the stains embedded within the organic matrices. That is essentially how hydrogen peroxide whitens your teeth.

It is absolutely wonderful that peroxide is able to get rid of stains in this manner because the whitening effect is instantly perceivable after the treatment. This is in contrast to you brushing your teeth everyday but still having yellow teeth!

Unfortunately the bad news is that hydrogen peroxide ONLY works when it is in contact with your tooth. That means once you’re done with the whitening treatment and you rinse it out, it will stop working right at that moment. There is no further whitening that will occur once you remove the whitening gel from the surfaces of your teeth.

In other words, your teeth will only whiten while you’re whitening them. Once you stop whitening, they will stop becoming whiter. Your teeth don’t constantly keep whitening and stay white after a single treatment. It is because of this that whitening is not permanent.

Teeth naturally get more yellow over time

After you whiten your teeth, they don’t magically become yellow overnight. They actually remain white as long as you don’t eat or drink anything that has color in it.

However we all know that is nearly impossible to do because we all get hungry and thirsty. Some eat to survive while some even live to eat! What makes it worse is that almost all of the foods and drinks that we consume are pigmented. They have various colors within them. As we eat and drink these colored foods, they will slowly stain our teeth back to yellow once more.

Foods that are notorious for staining our teeth:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Curry and turmeric
  • Sodas

Basically any foods that will stain your white t-shirt can also potentially stain your pearly white enamel. There aren’t too many foods that are clear in color, aka foods that won’t stain our teeth.

cup of coffee with pot

Due to this reason, it is a perpetual battle to keep our teeth white. Practically everything that we eat and drink will try to make them less white.

White teeth needs periodic maintenance

Since teeth naturally become more yellow, it only makes sense for you to try to counteract the staining effects. You should periodically whiten your teeth to ward off the yellowing.

If you wanted more proof, look no further than the whitening brands themselves, which explicitly tell you that you should do periodic maintenance after whitening.

According to KoR, after you go through the teeth whitening treatment you don’t need to redo it all over again. All you need to do is periodic maintenace to keep them white.

What the maintenance entails:

  • Depending on your need, you may need to whiten once a month with the take home kit.
  • If your teeth stain quickly, you may need to do it more frequently than once a month.
  • If your teeth don’t stain as quickly you could push out the maintenance schedule.

How often you need to do maintenance really depends on your specific needs. No one can really tell you how much of it you need except yourself. Please use your best judgement!

However if you don’t do the maintenance and you let the color relapse to what they were originally, you would need to redo the entire treatment. The maintenance is more like touch ups and that is significantly less expensive than redoing the whole treatment. You should protect your investment by doing these touch ups if you can!

How long does teeth whitening last?

To be frank, there isn’t a consensus as to how long the teeth whitening will last. We could not find a single teeth whitening manufacturer that says ANYTHING about the duration that the teeth will stay white afterwards.

Here are a couple of brands and what they say in regards to the “permanence” of their results:

How long does KöR Whitening last?

Unlike other whitening methods, with easy periodic home maintenance, KöR Whitening deliver lasting results.


How long does my treatment last?

Most whitening services are designed to last for a long period of time, but relapse is not uncommon due to personal behaviors that restain your teeth.

Philips ZOOM

One of the most common questions that most people ask is, how long does teeth whitening last? The answer is straightforward.

The length of time you can expect your teeth whitening results to last depends on the type of whitener or bleaching agents you use.

Your lifestyle habits can also play a significant role in how well the whitening kits will work.

Tooth whitening treatments such as whitening strips or those used by your dentist are all designed to reduce stains.

If you follow good oral habits, you can keep discolored teeth at bay. You can even use at-home products combined with dental cleanings to enjoy results that will last longer. 

SNOW Whitening

As you can see for yourself, there is no straight forward nor clear answer as to how long teeth whitening can last. This is at least according to the bleaching gel manufacturers themselves.

Our opinion on the duration of the whitening effect

In our opinion, asking the question how long does your teeth stay white after bleaching is the WRONG question to ask.

This is because the whiteness of teeth isn’t a yes or no answer. The color white falls upon a spectrum. That means that there are varying levels of whiteness.

Just take a look at a tooth shade guide that your dentist uses to identify the color of your teeth. The teeth come in varying levels of lightness.

VITA classical shade guide

Therefore immediately after whitening, your teeth will slowly start to yellow due to the pigmented foods that you eat. That process may be slow so over time they will get less “white”. Thus with each passing month, your teeth will become a little less white.

What is white and acceptable to you is purely subjective! Then just to drive the point home about “whiteness” being on a spectrum… have you ever shopped for paint at Bejamin Moore? There is literally a thousand shades of white.

benjamin moore shades of white


After whitening treatment, your teeth don’t stay white forever because everything that you eat has color in it. Basically your teeth are permanently being stained with various types of stains. This means that your teeth will get more yellow with each passing month after you finish bleaching them.

This is why it is important to do touch up whitening sessions that will maintain the whiteness of your teeth. These sessions are just once or twice a month that you do as upkeep for the color. It is different than a full whitening treatment and certainly not as expensive.

Once again, we are hesitant in giving you a specific timeline for when your teeth become not white because whiteness is not a yes or no answer. The color white falls on a spectrum and there are varying levels of whiteness.

The most honest answer that we can give you is that without any periodic maintenance, your teeth will become a little less white with each passing month.


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