Is Teeth Whitening Right for You?
Do you avoid smiling because you have stained teeth? If so, you aren’t alone; teeth whitening tops the list of popular cosmetic dentistry treatments.
One of the most common and cost effective cosmetic dentistry procedures, teeth whitening, can erase stains that have accumulated over a lifetime of eating darkly pigmented foods, drinking coffee, tea, and wine, or using tobacco products. Teeth naturally discolor as we age, and teeth whitening can bring back their youthful, white glow.
At Philadelphia-based Artistic Dentistry Expressions, we offer professional teeth whitening systems that are more potent than over-the-counter kits. Good candidates for tooth whitening have extrinsic tooth enamel stains and do not suffer from extremely sensitive teeth.
Tooth Discoloration Causes
Deciduous teeth, also called milk, baby, or primary teeth, erupt as beautifully white, starting at four to eight months of age. Then, when a child is around the age of six, those teeth naturally fall out and are replaced with the permanent, or adult, teeth, which aren’t quite as bright. As we age, teeth become dingy, most commonly due to the foods and drinks we consume.
Think of a white table cloth. How much caution do people take to avoid even the tiniest spill or drip? When red wine spills on a table cloth, people jump up to quickly sop it up, dab on club soda, and rush to have it laundered.
Like a white tablecloth, tooth enamel stains when it is subjected to dark foods and beverages. The deeper and more intense the color of foods and beverages, the more dramatic the stains they’ll leave on your teeth.
The coloring in many edibles contain chromogens, which are extremely pigmented molecules with the ability to latch onto dental enamel and stay there. Acidity in foods and drinks also plays a role in teeth discoloration, as acid erodes and softens tooth enamel so that chromogens can more easily cause stains. Tannins, found in red wine, actually give chromogens a power boost, so red wine is one of the most potent tooth enamel stainers.
Non-food related causes of tooth stains include:
- Tobacco use
- Tetracycline antibiotics
- Exposure to high levels of fluoride during tooth development
- Tooth decay
- Root canal complications
- Dental trauma
Who Is a Candidate for Whitening?
Broadly speaking, anyone with permanent, healthy teeth can undergo teeth whitening, but the type and severity of stains often factor into treatment recommendations.
- Yellow teeth respond best to chemical teeth whitening.
- Gray teeth may not whiten evenly.
- Tetracycline stains sometimes fail to whiten.
- Fluoride stains, called fluorosis, do not respond to chemical whitening.
- Fillings, crowns, caps, and bonding don’t respond to chemical whitening.
The Whitening Treatment
Professional, chemical tooth whitening includes a strong chemical agent that lifts stains from the pores in tooth enamel. The Artistic Dentistry Expressions team uses whitening systems that feature a buffer in the gel to protect tooth enamel from damage. Teeth often appear up to 10 shades lighter after an hour-long treatment. Then, you can use dentist-prescribed home whitening, with custom-fitted trays, to keep your teeth bright and shiny.
After your professional whitening procedure, practice good oral hygiene: brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Schedule a checkup and cleaning twice a year so that we can find and treat any dental problems before they escalate. If your teeth discolor between checkups, ask the dentist for a refill of the whitening gel.
Don’t hide your smile. Contact us to schedule an appointment to learn whether you’re a good candidate for professional teeth whitening. If you suffer from intrinsic tooth staining, Dr. Wilderman may discuss alternatives, such as porcelain veneers or cosmetic bonding, to whiten your teeth.