As dental professionals, we know that brushing and flossing are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping your teeth bright and healthy. Even if you practice healthy oral habits at home, you may still feel like your smile may not be as white as it once was. If you think your teeth have become more yellow than you would like them to be, we are here to help. We have the proper tools and knowledge to give you back your bright white smile and help get your confidence back. As with any of our procedures, we always perform a thorough exam before recommending any treatments.
There are several common things that can cause discoloration of your teeth. Some of these factors can be easily avoided by making simple changes in your daily habits.
Factors that cause discoloration
Food and Drink
Drinks like coffee, tea and red wine can cause major stains on your teeth when consumed on a consistent basis. These drinks actually contain intense color pigments that attach to the enamel on your teeth.
The tar and nicotine chemicals found in tobacco create stubborn stains. Tar is naturally dark in color. As for nicotine, a chemical reaction is created when it mixes with oxygen and it produces a yellow color that also causes stains.
When the layer of enamel on your teeth becomes thinner over time, which is normal, your teeth can start to look more yellow in color than before. This is the result of the layer under the enamel, known as dentin, coming through. There are certain types of toothpaste you can use at home to keep the enamel on your teeth from becoming any thinner. These toothpastes actually help preserve your remaining tooth enamel.
Some of our patients have experienced a mouth trauma. When you are hit in the mouth, your teeth react by producing more dentin. Dentin already exists under the enamel of your teeth. When dentin is produced on the top of the enamel, a darker and sometimes yellow color is the result.
Many of our patients teeth color is actually a side effect from a medication they are taking. Certain high blood pressure medications can cause tooth darkening. In children, antibiotics may lead to discoloration later in life. Patients who have undergone chemotherapy and radiation also suffer from darkening teeth.
The foods, drink, and tobacco we have listed are all things you can control and limit in order to keep your teeth from getting worse. You can also change the way you drink your coffee and tea by using a straw. This helps you avoid the initial contact your teeth make every time you take a sip of your beverage. Other factors that affect teeth color, like the ones we have mentioned, do require a professional treatment and alternatives to simple bleaching.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Overall, teeth whitening is a simple process. The products we use to whiten your teeth contain hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, which are safe forms of bleach. By treating teeth with these products, we are able to break down stains resulting in a bright smile.
How Do I Know if Teeth Whitening is right for me?
It is important to have an oral exam before you undergo any whitening procedures. Although whitening products work on most teeth, not all discoloration can be treated by these products. Teeth with yellow stains respond the best to whitening, while brown teeth may not. Whitening treatments will not work on veneers, crowns, caps or fillings. We do offer other alternatives if you are not happy with the current state of your teeth that we will go over in detail during your exam.
The best way to improve your teeth at home is by simply switching out your current toothpaste. When buying toothpaste for stain removal, look for whitening toothpastes that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance specifically for stain removal. This is a safe way to remove surface stains at home between dental visits.
Our In-Office Bleaching Service
Our dentists can perform a whitening procedure on your teeth. It usually only requires one office visit to see results. We use protective gels and shields to protect your gums while the whitening product is applied. We do recommend in-office whitening simply because we can do it quickly and safely. We also have access to light and heat sources to speed up the process even more. If you do prefer to bleach your teeth at home, we can provide you with a custom made tray that will fit your teeth properly. We will also go over the details of exactly what you need to do, for how long, and how often. Depending on the severity of your discoloration, results will begin to show anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Many of our patients ask if they can use store bought bleaching products. The simple answer is yes, however, there are important things you should know before purchasing over these counter products. The concentration of these bleaching products is actually lower than what we use in the office, which can make it less effective than one visit to the dentist. Additionally, you need to check for the ADA Seal of Acceptance to ensure the product has been tested and deemed safe for use. Many products that provide trays are not custom fit, so you may experience some gum irritation and tooth sensitivity after using them. It is very important not to overuse these products because overuse can result in further damage to your teeth and make the color of your teeth worse. If you choose to use these products, we are here to help you decide on the one that will be most effective for your teeth depending on their current condition. If you feel like these products are not doing the job, or perhaps making things worse, stop using them and come in to see us right away.