If you feel like your smile isn’t as bright as you’d like it to be, you’re not alone.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked patients what they’d most like to improve about their smile. The most common answer? Whiter teeth. Another survey by WhiteGlo showed that 75% of people wish their teeth were whiter.
Are you considering getting your teeth whitened? In today’s blog post, we’ll review how the teeth whitening process works, common causes of teeth staining, and how our treatments at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles can help.
What is teeth whitening, and how does it work?
Teeth whitening is a process commonly used in cosmetic dentistry to lighten the natural color of teeth. It uses whitening products (usually consisting of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) to break up stains and make your teeth appear brighter. By breaking up stains on the teeth, the stain color is less concentrated, making your teeth appear lighter.
It might surprise you to learn that your teeth have pores, just like your skin does. When your teeth are exposed to things such as coffee, wine or tobacco, they develop stains. When you have your teeth whitened, bleaching agents cause the pores of your teeth to open, allowing the cleaning agents to enter and break down the stains.
Is it safe?
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to teeth whitening. There are many teeth whitening treatments available on the market — both for at-home and in-office applications — and while they are generally safe, some of them might damage the tooth enamel or cause side effects, especially if used improperly.
That’s why it’s important to talk with your dentist before beginning any whitening treatment.
A few other tips to keep in mind when considering a whitening treatment:
- Look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance. The ADA reviews and approves teeth whitening toothpastes and whitening strips for safety.
- Follow the teeth whitening instructions exactly, making sure to pay close attention to the frequency and usage timespan to avoid overuse.
Causes of teeth staining and discoloration
There are a number of reasons why teeth develop stains or discoloration over time. Teeth stains can be broken down into three different types:
- Extrinsic stains – staining on the surface of a tooth
- Intrinsic stains – staining below the surface of the tooth
- Age-related stains – staining that happens from a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors over time
A few of the most common causes of teeth staining are:
Food and drink
Most of us know that beverages like coffee and tea stain our teeth over time — but did you know other foods like wine, curry, soy sauce, and even some fruits and vegetables can stain your teeth? That’s because all of these contain chromagens, or intense color pigments. These chromogens attach to the outer layer of the teeth and stain them.
Foods and beverages containing high amounts of acid and sugar, like soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks, can also stain the teeth by weakening the enamel.
When consuming foods or beverages you suspect may stain your teeth, it’s best to rinse your mouth with water and/or brush your teeth afterwards to leave the staining agents as little time as possible on your teeth.
As we get older, the outer, protective layer of our teeth (called the enamel) starts to break down, revealing the soft layer underneath. This layer is called dentin, and it is naturally a yellowish color, causing the teeth to appear more yellow.
Medications and antibiotics
Antihistamines, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, and antibiotics are all known to cause tooth discoloration.
Smoking and tobacco use
Two chemicals commonly found in tobacco are also a common cause of tooth staining: nicotine and tar. Tar is a naturally dark color — and while nicotine is colorless on its own, when combined with oxygen, it takes on a yellow color and stains the teeth.
Injury or trauma
If you’ve had some sort of injury to the mouth, it’s possible for the affected teeth to discolor. The tooth might turn a dark brown, or even gray.
Poor dental hygiene habits
A good, basic oral hygiene routine consists of:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing once per day
- Visiting your dentist for regular 6-month exams and cleanings
Not practicing these habits can cause plaque build up on the teeth, and allow stain producing substances to sit on the teeth, making them difficult to remove.
Which treatment is right for you?
Because everyone’s teeth are different — and everyone has different reasons for developing tooth stains — it’s important to talk with your dentist before moving forward with a teeth whitening treatment. Dr. Diane and Dr. Frank will work with you to determine your teeth whitening goals, and recommend the best solution for you and your smile.
A few factors they’ll take into consideration:
- Whether or not you have cavities or gum disease. These should be addressed before beginning treatment to avoid tooth sensitivity after treatment.
- The color and type of stain. Dark brown and gray stains don’t usually respond to whitening treatment. Dental veneers or lumineers might be a better option.
- Presence of dental restorations. Whitening treatment may damage some dental restorations, and doesn’t whiten crowns, caps, fillings, or veneers.
Contact us today to learn more!
Teeth whitening and teeth staining treatments at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles
Our in-office teeth whitening treatments are a simple and effective way to brighten your teeth. Here’s how whitening treatment at our Sunny Isles office works:
- We use 3D imaging technology to create highly detailed, customized whitening trays fit specifically to you. It will fit perfectly!
- We’ll give you the trays, a specially formulated whitening gel, and detailed instructions to take home with you.
- You’ll fill the trays with the whitening gel and wear them per your dentist’s instructions.
- You’ll see a dramatic improvement within one week of use.
Looking to achieve a brighter smile? We can help!
At Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles, we want to help you put your best smile forward. We are pleased to offer our Sunny Isles patients comfortable and highly effective teeth whitening services to restore your natural-looking white smile.