Bright white teeth are a very crucial part of what makes someone’s smile appealing. So it’s no surprise that an improved smile is at the top of a patient’s priorities when the pay a visit to their dentist.
Since white teeth are becoming more and more important, dentists have dedicated a significant effort into making this process effective, affordable and most importantly, safe.
You can always purchase teeth whitening products at stores or chemists, but they won’t be as effective as the tools found at a dentist. That’s because the products that dentists use, are usually much higher quality, have a higher potency and produce better results.
Depending on the cause of your teeth discoloration (smoking, coffee, medication etc.), in what time frame you want to achieve the desired shade and your budget, our dentists at Andros Orthodontics will recommend the best approach.
What is the cause of teeth discoloration?
As you might know, the outer layer of your teeth is called the enamel. At a younger age, most of us have a thick, white layer of enamel that wears down with age and becomes more transparent and starting to show the inner tooth structure, which is yellow.
When it comes to tooth staining, we can tell apart two major categories:
- External – mostly caused by smoking, consuming large quantities of beverages such as tea, coffee or red wine and not paying too much attention to your dental hygiene.
- Internal –which can be caused by injuries, being overly exposed to fluoride and even some medication.
Food and drink as the cause of teeth discoloration
As we mentioned before, food and drink is the leading cause of external tooth staining. It is mostly caused by highly-pigmented food or beverages such as black tea, green tea, red wine and everyone’s favorite….coffee.
In order to prevent or minimize the effect of the above mentioned, we recommend that you:
- Rinse with water after consuming e.g. a cup of coffee.
- Your body also has its natural ‘rinsing’ mechanism in the form of saliva. Chewing sugar-free gum additional stimulates the natural saliva flow, which washes away the stains.
- Toothpaste with abrasive agents is also a good solution. The abrasive agents can remove some staining although you will most likely be able to use this option at home only. And if you need help picking the right toothpaste, make sure that you consult with your dentist or dental hygienist.
- Flossing and brushing can further reduce the formation of bacteria in your mouth.
- Regular cleaning and check-ups are vital. Most dentists recommend check-ups every six months and during that appointment, the dentist will check if your teeth are healthy and also remove any dental plaque, surface stains or hardened tartar.
- For patients that have severely stained teeth (heavy brown or even black), simple cleaning and whitening is not going to cut it. Instead, we recommend using specialized treatments that involve high-pressure water jets and special crystals to lift the surface staining.
Age as the cause of teeth discoloration
As we age, the enamel (the outer layer of our teeth) becomes thinner and the layer under the enamel (also known as dentine) starts to show, presenting the teeth as yellowish.
Furthermore, gum recession also occurs in some people, which exposes the tooth root that is more yellow than the enamel.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent these processes, but you can manage them.
When brushing your teeth, try using a softer toothbrush and instead of scrubbing your teeth (this can further thin the enamel) use gentle circular motion. This should help with teeth whitening.
Injuries as a cause for teeth discoloration
External teeth discoloration can be caused by various things. The most common is injury, for example, if you fall and damage your enamel. Certain medications, like tetracycline, can also cause teeth discoloration (taken by the mother during the second half of her pregnancy or by a child up to 8 years old). Excessive fluoride exposure (mostly from oral medication) can also cause your tooth enamel to become thinner.
Teeth whitening with porcelain veneers
Porcelain veneers are thin caps that are cemented go over your teeth. These caps are white and well-shaped and cause no discomfort and provide a natural feel.
Depending on the result, a patient can have one or more than one tooth veneered. For more information on porcelain veneers, make sure to contact us and ask our experienced dentists.
Teeth whitening processes
There are more than one tooth whitening processes and we can recommend several so you can choose the one that fits you.
When deciding what teeth whitening process to go with, take into consideration (most importantly) what is the main reason for teeth whitening. It’s possible that you have a special event coming up and you need fast results or maybe you would like to gradually whiten your teeth.
For patients who would like the instant results, we recommend using high strength peroxide combined with a special LED light. This procedure can take up to two hours, it’s performed in-chair and produces immediate results.
You can further enhance the effect of this teeth whitening process by some at-home whitening solutions or annual power bleaching.
For patients that have plenty amount of time on their hands, we highly recommend at-home teeth whitening solutions. This involves paying a visit to your dentist first. During this visit, your dentist will take a mold of your upper and lower teeth and use that to create a custom bleaching tray.
When you have your bleaching tray, the rest of the process can be done at home. Your dentist will recommend a teeth whitening gel, that you will have to apply to your trays and wear them during the day or night (depending on your preference). You can choose whether to wear the trays for one hour or during your sleep. The important thing is that you repeat the process on a daily basis for a few weeks.
At-home teeth whitening puts you in the ‘driver seat’. You get to decide when are your teeth white enough and when will you move on to the maintenance phase. This process is most suitable for patients who like to tailor their teeth whitening to their own comfort.
What are the risks of teeth whitening?
The most common risk of teeth whitening is higher than normal sensitivity to temperature, pressure or touch. This especially applies to patients that suffer from gum recession, cracks in their teeth or poor restoration that resulted in leakage. However, the sensitivity doesn’t last long, maybe a day or two and you can get special gels and toothpaste that should provide some relief.