29 Aug Why do teeth discolor and how can we brighten them?
Do you remember the last time you stood in front of a mirror smiling wide to inspect the appearance of your teeth? From changes in health to the foods we eat and drink, enamel can darken over time. There are many over-the-counter and professional whitening solutions, but why do teeth discolor and how can we brighten them?
Enamel is the outer layer of our teeth and the hardest surface in our body. It protects the crown and critical inner workings of our teeth. High acidic foods can soften enamel, while biting hard candy, chewing ice, grinding teeth, and years of use can cause small pits in the enamel. Within these imperfections, stains find a way of penetrating enamel causing a change in color.
Every day we put foods into our mouth that contribute to teeth discoloration. A hot cup of coffee when we wake, a glass of red wine at dinner, a cola during the day. These common beverages are big contributors to darkening enamel. Additional culprits include:
- Wine – both white and red
- Dark Fruits – blueberries and blackberries
- Soda, juices and high-sugar foods
- Hot tea and coffee
- Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco
- Acidic foods
- Improper care
Enamel discoloration may also result from internal causes including genetics, aging, health issues and medications. While teeth whitening may seem harmless, consult your doctor first if you have health concerns or are taking medication.
From toothpaste to professional solutions there are options available for whitening teeth. These products contain peroxide as the active ingredient and based on percent as well as other ingredients, some are more effective than others. While stains will affect artificial teeth it’s important to note that most false teeth will not whiten. This includes crowns, implants, and veneers. Brighten natural enamel while keeping a balance in color with artificial teeth.
Whitening toothpaste is a convenient solution that can lighten a tooth’s color by approximately one shade. For some that may be enough, but if you are expecting meaningful results then toothpaste is not the answer.
The use of mouthwash is a quick swish in the mouth twice a day before brushing. Since the product is in contact with teeth for a brief time it can take up to 12 weeks before visible results can be seen.
Whitening strips stay in contact with the tooth surface longer. The product is a thin, invisible strip coated with a peroxide-based gel. Whitening is achieved faster than mouthwash but lasts only a few months and results may vary based on many factors. Whitening strips are “one size fits all” and may overlap onto the gums which can cause sensitivity by the peroxide ingredient.
In-office whitening provides the swiftest approach. The whitening product is applied directly to the teeth and is often used in combination with a special light. Our light system, ZOOM, activates the whitening gel and delivers visible results after a single 30 to 60-minute session. A whitening gel along with a custom-made mouthpiece is given to the patient to take home. This customization allows the gel to be evenly distributed over the teeth while minimizing contact with gum tissue. Gel solutions are concentrated and will whiten more quickly with longer results. To maintain appearance, refills can be obtained during 6-month cleaning appointments.
After using a whitening product some persons may experience tooth or gum sensitivity. This is temporary and should dissipate after a few days. Avoid stain-causing foods and minimize hot and cold beverages during that time. If sensitivity continues, contact your dentist.
We know that sometimes feeling good is connected to looking good. At Imperial Dental Center, our experienced dental team lead by Dr. Angelova is happy to help you choose the best course of action for whitening your teeth.
“We Love to See You Smile!”