Teeth Whitening: Your Complete Guide to Fixing Discolored Teeth
One of the first things people notice about you is your smile. Unfortunately, due to some daily habits, your smile may not be as bright as it should be. This is certainly not the first impression you want to leave anyone with. You might even believe that your discolored teeth may have cost you a job, held you back in your career, or adversely affected your dating life. However, stained teeth don’t have to be permanent.
There are effective whitening treatments that can improve your smile and give you the boost of self-confidence you need. Rest assured that Family And Cosmetic Dentistry can definitely get you on the right track.
Reasons People Whiten Their Teeth
Teeth stains or discoloration can make you self-conscious especially for milestone events in your life. Often, some people don’t consider whitening their teeth until they face one of the following situations:
- They need help to stop smoking
- They have a special event to attend
- They have a job interview
- They are embarrassed by their discolored teeth
- They want to restore aging teeth
- They need a boost of self-confidence
- They believe it will improve their lives when it comes to dating and opportunities at work
Whatever your reasons may be, consult your dentist before making a final decision on the teeth whitening procedure you would like to use.
Reasons Your Teeth May Change Color
Over time, your teeth most commonly change color due to some of the foods you eat. However, there may be other reasons such as age and tobacco use that may also contribute to their discoloration.
Food and Drink
Foods with chromogens or intense color pigments usually cause staining. Sustained consumption causes the pigments to attach to your tooth’s enamel causing discoloration. Some of these foods include curry, red wine, tomato-based foods, coffee, and tea.
Ironically, medications that you take to feel better can also contribute to the discoloration of your teeth. Some medications for hypertension, antihistamines, and antipsychotics can have side effects that include tooth darkening.
Exposure to antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline can cause babies in utero and young children to have discoloration in their adult teeth. Radiation to the head and neck as well as chemotherapy can also darken teeth.
Tar and nicotine which are both found in tobacco can stain your teeth. Nicotine, although colorless, turns a shade of yellow when mixed with oxygen, while tar is dark. They both can cause surface staining.
Teeth tend to produce more dentin, which is a darker layer under the skin when there is a tooth injury. This usually occurs when you have been hit in the mouth. Your tooth may change color as it reacts to the injury.
Dentin also begins to show as you get older, making your teeth appear yellow. This is because the outer enamel layer of your teeth becomes thinner over time due to brushing.
How to Lessen Your Chances of Getting Discolored Teeth
It is often possible to prevent or eliminate teeth discoloration. It often starts with your daily routine: how you take care of your teeth and what you consume. Here are few things you can try to lessen the chances of teeth discoloration.
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes
- You can also brush using a mixture of baking soda every few days
- Use a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to rinse your mouth daily or every few days
- Floss daily to reduce the build-up of tartar or plaque
- Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water after eating
- Use mouthwash with a fluoride base every day
- Visit your dentist regularly for dental cleanings
- Eliminate or reduce your intake of foods with pigments or artificial coloring, sugary and citrus foods, and nicotine or tobacco products
- Change dental work such as bridges, fillings, or crowns that have worn down or lost their color
- Replace metal fillings with a tooth-colored option
Fluoride can be helpful when trying to prevent or eliminate discolored teeth, but make sure your intake of fluoride is not above the recommended daily allowance, especially for children that are younger than eight. Remember that when using hydrogen peroxide or products with it to rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Professional Treatment vs. Home Treatment
The main difference between professional whitening treatments and home whitening treatments is their effectiveness.
The whitening treatment that Family And Cosmetic Dentistry use is more effective than over-the-counter (OTC) or home whitening remedies as it lasts longer. However, it may require more than one treatment to achieve dramatic whiteness. Although cheaper, home whitening treatments have varying results and don’t last as long.
Misconceptions About Teeth Whitening
It is often believed that all teeth whitening products are basically the same. However, each has varying results. Also, not everyone is a good candidate for whitening treatment. There are different types of discoloration and whitening agents may not be effective in treating them.
Whitening may not work for people with fillings, caps, crowns, or veneers. If your discoloration is a result of a tooth injury or medication, whitening may also not be effective.
Different levels of discoloration have different results:
- Gray teeth – may not bleach at all
- Yellow teeth – will usually bleach well
- Brown teeth – may not respond as well
Teeth whitening can also result in sensitive teeth. However, the sensitivity should be temporary. It occurs when the peroxide present in the whitener perforates the enamel and makes contact with the layer of dentin in your tooth.
If you have periodontal disease whitening may irritate your gums. In both cases, you should let your dentist know and delay your treatment. Generally, it is important to consult your dentist before trying to remove surface stains.
The Most Common Mistakes You Can Make When Whitening Your Own Teeth
There are a few things you should consider before whitening your own teeth, as there are common mistakes you will want to avoid such as:
- Whitening your teeth before consulting a dentist
- Expecting a whitening treatment to work after using it only once
- Overusing any treatment
- Eating acidic foods, foods with artificial coloring or pigment, or tobacco or nicotine products during the period your whitening your teeth
- Using a generic tray that doesn’t fit the shape of your teeth
There is a fine balance when using whitening treatments. Regardless of the whitening product you are using, it is important to follow instructions. Using it only once will be ineffective but overusing it can be just as bad.
Common Teeth Whitening Strategies
With all the teeth whitening products that are currently available, how do you know the one that is best for you? Here are a few options to consider:
The strength of the peroxide base they contain will determine how you should use it. They are usually clear and applied directly to the surface of your teeth with a small brush. Follow the directions carefully and you will start seeing results in a few days. The results will last for about four months.
Whitening strips are coated with peroxide-based whitening gel. They are usually thin and almost invisible. The strips are usually placed over the teeth but you should follow the instructions based on the brand you purchase. You will see results in a few days and it should last for about four months.
Rinses are one of the new whitening products available. They are similar to mouthwashes as they reduce gum disease and plaque as well as freshen your breath. However, unlike most mouthwashes, some of them contain hydrogen peroxide to help whiten your teeth.
You should use it twice a day by swishing it in your mouth for about 60 seconds before you brush your teeth. Because the rinse only touches your teeth for a short time, most professionals don’t believe it is as effective as other whitening products. It takes about 12 weeks before you could see its effects.
Tray-Based Tooth Whiteners
You can purchase these from your dentist or over-the-counter. It requires you to fill a tray with a gel containing a peroxide-bleaching agent. You will need to wear the tray every day for a few hours at night for a four-week duration. This may need to be longer, depending on how white you want your teeth.
Your dentist also uses a professional tray-based whitener that can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter after several treatments.
The Best Way To Whiten Your Teeth
The best way to whiten discolored teeth is to have a dentist do it. It is usually the fastest and most effective way to whiten your teeth. They can also monitor the health of your teeth and recommend any other treatments you may need.
We apply the whitening product directly to your teeth. Depending on the level of discoloration, you may combine the treatment with a laser, heat, or a special light. After one 30 to 60 minute treatment, you will see results, but to sustain it and achieve ultimate whiteness, you should make several appoints to repeat the procedure.
If you live in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake or Norfolk Virginia, Dr. Stelianos Bredologos and Dr. Maria Mendrino of Family and Cosmetic Dentistry can provide you with an in-office or at-home whitening treatment. Start your journey to a beautiful smile. Contact us today!