Your smile is one of the first things that other people notice about you, but if your teeth are discolored, chances are you are hiding your smile instead of showing it off. Fortunately, there is a way that you can restore the whiteness of your teeth and the beauty of your smile so you won’t have to be embarrassed by it anymore. How? – With tooth whitening.
Are you wondering what tooth whitening is all about and trying to decide whether or not it is something that you want to consider? If so, keep on reading to learn more.
Why Are Your Teeth Discolored?
When talking about tooth whitening, it is important to understand why the teeth become discolored in the first place.
The teeth can either become discolored as a result of staining on the surface of the enamel, or by chances that occur inside the teeth themselves. There are three different types of tooth discoloration, which include:
- Extrinsic Discoloration: This is the type of discoloration that happens when the enamel, the outer layer of the tooth, becomes stained. There are several different foods and drinks that cause extrinsic discoloration, such as coffee, red wine, dark colored carbonated beverages, tea, hard candy, dark colored berries and tomato sauce. Tobacco products, including cigars, cigarettes and chewing tobacco can cause extrinsic tooth discoloration, as well.
- Intrinsic Discoloration: This type of discoloration happens when the dentin, the interior structure of the tooth, becomes darker or develops a yellowish tint. Intrinsic tooth discoloration can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Excessive exposure to fluoride in early childhood
- You experienced trauma to your permanent teeth as they were developing when you were young
- Your mother took tetracycline antibiotics during her pregnancy
- You took tetracycline antibiotics prior to the age of 8
- You were born with dentinogenesis imperfecta, a rare condition that discolors the dentin
- Age Related Discoloration: As you age, the dentin naturally starts to yellow and the enamel becomes thinner, allowing the discolored dentin to become visible. Additionally, the older you are, the more exposure your teeth have had to staining (extrinsic discoloration.) As a result, it is not uncommon for the teeth to become discolored as you age.
Types of Tooth Whitening Products
The desire for brighter, whiter teeth has lead to the development of several different tooth whitening products. In order to determine which product is right for your needs, it’s important to have an understanding of these products.
- Whitening Toothpastes: Perhaps the most popular tooth whitening product is toothpaste. Whitening toothpastes are made with mild abrasives, which essentially polish the teeth and remove the stains on the exterior surface while brushing. The popularity of whitening toothpastes is largely due to the fact that they are inexpensive and easy to use; however, while these toothpastes do offer some results, they are not significantly noticeable and they usually don’t last long. Additionally, with excessive use, they can actually damage the teeth, as the abrasives weaken the enamel.
- Whitening Strips: Dental strips are another popular tooth whitening product. The plastic strips have peroxide gel on one side, and that gel is applied to the outer surface of the teeth. Though using them is more involved than toothpaste, they do offer more noticeable results.
- Tray Whiteners: This type of tooth whitening product involves applying a whitening solution into a tray that is similar to a mouth guard. You can either purchase an over-the-counter kit, or you can have trays custom made for your mouth by your dentist. This product yields greater results than both toothpastes and strips.
- Professional Dental Whitening Treatment: A cosmetic dentist can perform a professional, in-office whitening treatment. This type of treatment usually involves applying a whitening gel to the teeth and shining an ultraviolet lamp onto the teeth, which activates the whitening agent in the gel. Professional dental whitening yields the most noticeable results in the fastest period of time; typically, a treatment takes less than an hour and one treatment can make your teeth several shades whiter.
If you are interested in learning more about tooth whitening or you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss our state-of-the-art whitening procedures, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
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