White teeth are perceived as healthy teeth. A stain-free smile mentally translates into self-confidence, success in your career, and attractiveness to the opposite gender. For these reasons and more, people seek ways to keep their teeth pearl-like. Whether that’s in the form of home kits or professional procedures depends on what type of stains they’re battling as well as budget and time commitment.
What Caused the Tooth Stains?
The spots or discoloration of your teeth could be simply superficial (extrinsic) or they could the results of a deeper, older condition in the tooth structure (intrinsic) often introduced by during tooth infancy. Bleaching is a wonderful solution to extrinsic stains caused by daily life habits.
External tooth staining is accelerated when tooth enamel has been scratched and weakened by malnutrition, demineralization or acidic substances. Coffee and tea are culprits, as well as sticky sweets such as caramel or sodas. All of these roughen up tooth surfaces and deposit pigments. Smoking or chewing tobacco also stains teeth with regular use.
Foods aren’t the only offenders to your pearly whites. Excessive fluoride in developmental ages of teeth has also been linked to a brownish stain on teeth.
Types of Tooth Stains
Tooth staining can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. The extrinsic stains are mostly superficial, and are a result of dietary components and beverages (coffee, tea, caramel, etc.) that possess different pigments, in addition to smoking and chewing tobacco, which can stain the teeth. External tooth staining is accelerated in cases where the surface of the teeth is already roughened due to acidity and demineralization.
Intrinsic tooth stains appear deeper within the tooth structure. The most common reason for intrinsic tooth staining is the incorporation of any pigment or chemical within the developing teeth. Prescription of oral tetracycline, an antibiotic medication often prescribed to children, during tooth development results in the teeth taking up grayish stains.
Similarly, consumption of excess fluoride, during developmental stages of the teeth, can potentially lead to development of brownish stains on the teeth. Other causes of intrinsic staining include trauma to the teeth, or staining following root canal therapy. In case of a dental trauma, a blood clot can form within the tooth, which can be seen on the exterior and give the appearance of a deep stain.
Several Options for Tooth Whitening
As mentioned above, getting external stains removed from your chompers can be done through in-home kits you can get at most major stores or in-office, where your local dentist can do a one-time or multiple visit bleaching treatment.
If you opt for commercial tooth whitening products, consider the different chemical formulas they offer. Take into consideration the concentrations of active ingredients, and compare them to the severity of your teeth’s discoloration. Strips or product filled trays seem to be more effective than those with whose instructions include brushing on product. If you’d rather continually battle stains, several brands of whitening toothpaste are also available.
For tougher stain-fighting or a more confident removal, consider in-office procedures. Here, our staff uses whitening agents in custom-made trays and place them in your oral cavity as indicated by either your dentist for an allotted time period. A major advantage of in-office whitening sessions is that your gums are covered with protective chemical to prevent any damage or unwanted side effects. Most whitening procedures in a dental clinic require 2-3 visits ranging from 60-90 minutes. The advantages and higher quality results compared to a commercial product outweigh the time consumption in most patients’ minds.
Concerns of Safety
Whether implemented at home or by a dental professional, tooth bleaching is a safe procedure when the dentist’s and manufacturer’s directions are followed. Occasionally, tooth sensitivity or gum irritation can happen, but it usually subsides the same day.
When Regular Oral Care Isn’t Enough
It should be noted that staining can sometimes be avoided if consistent brushing and flossing is done and a proper diet is consumed. That said, we’ve shown you some great options to bleach away any stains that do occur. If you feel that an in-office procedure suits your needs, please let our friendly and experienced staff at H. Peter Ku, D.D.S., PA help your smile get back to its perfect hue of white.