Practicing good oral hygiene habits every day will keep your teeth clean and healthy. But, you may still want a brighter smile. Over time teeth tend to lose their youthful sparkle; they become more dull, stained or yellowy. That is why professional teeth whitening has become one of today’s most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures.
What Causes Teeth Staining & Discoloration?
There are several reasons why teeth change from sparkling white to a dull, not-so-bright hue over time:
- Food and Drink – High acid foods and drinks, and those which contain intense pigments like coffee, tea, blueberries, pomegranates, soda and red wine are some of the worst culprits.
- Smoking and Other Tobacco Use – Nicotine and tar, two harsh chemicals contained in tobacco lead to stubborn teeth staining. Tar is dark substance. Nicotine is responsible for the signature yellow teeth that often gives away a smoker.
- Age-Related Teeth Discoloration – Beneath the outer tooth enamel is a softer layer of dentin. As we age, the protective cover grows thinner, making the yellowish-colored dentin more visible.
- Dental Trauma – Teeth can also change color in reaction to a dental injury. More dentin may show through the tooth enamel.
- Medications – Tooth discoloration can occur by a drug’s side effect. The use of some antihistamines, hypertension medications, and antipsychotic drugs can lead to teeth darkening.
How Does Teeth Whitening Help?
The teeth whitening procedure is quite simple. Whitening gel typically contains one of two bleaches, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These brightening chemicals break down tooth stains into smaller particles, making the discoloration less concentrated and teeth whiter.
Do Whitening Products Work on All Teeth?
Teeth whitening does not correct all types of tooth discoloration. For example, teeth with yellowish stains are likely to respond well to professional teeth whitening. However, brown stains may not bleach properly, and grayish teeth might not whiten at all. Also, if your discoloration is due to medication or dental trauma, teeth stains may not respond to bleaching.
Teeth Whitening Options
Consult with your dentist before trying any teeth whitening system. If you are a good candidate, there are three teeth whitening methods available to brighten your smile:
- Whitening Toothpastes – Any good toothpaste will remove surface stains, but whitening brands contain additional bleaching or polishing agents for more powerful stain removal at a deeper level. Unlike teeth whitening systems, toothpaste only remove surface stains, they don’t alter the color of teeth.
- In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening – Professional teeth whitening usually requires only one dentist visit. The whitening gel is applied to teeth after your dentist covers the gums with a rubber shield or other protective agent.
- At-Home Bleaching – Custom fit whitening trays containing bleaching gel may be used at home. You can get this type of teeth whitening products from your dentist or over-the-counter. You may also use whitening strips that adhere to teeth. If you purchase a bleaching kit outside of your dentist, it won’t be as effective as professional teeth whitening because the bleaching agent is less powerful.