Over the course of a lifetime, a number of factors can lead to a change in the coloration of your teeth. To reverse discoloration or staining, at-home and professional in-office tooth whitening treatments are available to create a noticeably brighter and whiter appearance. If you are considering tooth whitening, learning about what causes discoloration, which treatment options are available, and what the potential risks involved are, can help in determining if tooth whitening is the right choice for you.
What causes tooth discoloration?
The most common causes of tooth discoloration or staining include:
- Heredity – Genetic makeup can determine the thickness of the outer enamel layer along with the yellow, blue, or grey shade of the underlying dentin tooth layer. Accordingly, tooth discoloration can be passed on from generation to generation.
- Age – When people age, enamel thickness decreases, exposing more of the discolored yellow, blue, or grey dentin tooth layer underneath.
- Foods and beverages – Coffee, black tea, soft drinks, wine, candy, and foods like berries and tomato sauce can stain teeth over time.
- Tobacco usage – In addition to other health risks, smoking or chewing tobacco can cause a yellowing stain to teeth.
- Medications – Certain antibiotics (such as tetracycline), antihistamines, and hypertension medication can cause tooth discoloration.
- Poor oral hygiene – Infrequent or inadequate brushing and flossing to remove stains can lead to discoloration.
- Trauma – Injury to teeth and gums can affect normal enamel and dentin formation, resulting in temporary or long-term discoloration.
- Disease – A variety of diseases and disease treatments can lead to tooth discoloration. Namely measles, chicken pox, and streptococcal infections, can in some instances cause enamel hypoplasia where tooth enamel becomes pitted and yellow stained. Additionally some chemotherapy and radiation treatments can cause tooth discoloration.
At-home treatment options
- Whitening toothpastes – Can assist in removing surface level stains through non-bleaching polishing and are comparatively very gentle on teeth and gums. Teeth can be slightly lightened gradually over time with toothpastes. However, they are generally less effective and lasting than professional treatment.
- Over-the-counter trays, strips, and rinses – Usually contain low levels of the bleaching chemical peroxide for below the surface level tooth enamel lightening. Generally, over-the-counter trays, strips, and rinses are more effective than whitening toothpastes but less effective than professional treatment options in removing deep discoloration. Application instructions and directions should be carefully followed to avoid potential problems. It is best to consult your dentist before beginning any at-home whitening treatment.
In-office professional treatment
In-office professional tooth whitening treatment is the strongest and most effective way to whiten teeth, usually 6 to 10 shades lighter. We offer Opalescence Tooth Whitening Systems at our office using a re-loadable custom made tray to deliver tooth whitening gel. Opalescence whitening gel contains the active ingredient of either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, oxygen, plus desensitizers potassium nitrate and fluoride to effectively whiten teeth without damaging enamel or causing sensitivity. Additionally, Opalescence gels are formulated to prevent dehydration and shade relapse, and is available in four concentrations with three flavors for day or night usage. Results can be seen after one treatment with dramatic coloration change in as little as a week. We also now offer affordable Opalescence Go Kits which contain preloaded and disposable trays without the need for dental impressions for at-home treatment.
Side effects and risks
Following professional treatment, teeth may become sensitive to hot or cold temperatures and gums may be irritated for a short period of time as well. Any whitening product should be used as directed for no longer than instructed or prescribed. If your teeth or gums become extremely sensitive, sores develop, or a prolonged gum coloration change occurs, stop any at-home treatment and contact your dentist immediately.
If you are considering tooth whitening, you should only do so after a dental consultation. A thorough examination by your dentist will determine if tooth whitening is the appropriate course of treatment for you.
~The Dorosti Family Dental team offers both in-office professional tooth whitening treatments and at-home kits. Call today to learn more: 740/452-3697.