To Whiten or not to Whiten? That is the question.
Before someone chooses to whiten their teeth, they should know why teeth can discolor and what method to choose in seeking a whiter smile!
Causes of discoloration of teeth. A child’s baby teeth are generally whiter than the adult teeth. As a person ages the adult teeth often become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth. Teeth become more yellow or opaque and generally have a darker hue, usually after 50. Enamel becomes less porous. FYI: (Fluoride treatments work efficiently in children because the uptake is so much better when teeth are younger and have larger pores.) Fluorides do not whiten, just strengthen.
Adult teeth still have pores, they are just smaller and can be treated with whitening or bleaching agents. It just takes a bit longer. Anyone under 14 should not be whitening their teeth.
Teeth can become stained from:
1. Antibacterial medications (tetracycline) usually while tooth buds are forming in the fetus and the mother takes this while pregnant.
2. Ingesting liquids like coffee, tea and red wine. These beverages contain tannins which stain. Soft drinks contain tannic acid, a bit different, but still can stain.
3. Tobacco or smokeless tobacco (tar and nicotine)
4. Chlorhexidine (peridex) and even Listerine can cause staining if used on a daily basis. Usually used for gingivitis and halitosis (bad breath)
5. Foods with carotenoids, the deeper the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more carotenoid it has, also the healthier it is. Double edged sword here! To me it is more important for your health to get these foods in your body, but brush within the half hour or hour after consuming them or at least brush three times daily and you will help prevent these stains!
6. Enamel hypoplasia: a defect in tooth enamel resulting in less quantity of enamel. Sometimes genetic, they can be a small pit or dent and appear yellow, brown or white and can have a rough surface. In severe cases they may need bonding, veneers or crowns. You sometimes see this in people who wore (orthodontic) braces and pits and spots appear on their teeth if not properly taken care of during treatment.
7. Trauma to the tooth from an accident. These patients usually end up
with Root Canal treatment. There are different methods of whitening and bleaching you can try. Whitening usually means that you are restoring the natural tooth color. Bleaching restores beyond natural tooth color. Pursuing what is best for your teeth should first be done with a dental check up to rule out or restore any decay or to restore health to infected gums if necessary and to rule out allergies. Pursue sound advice from a dental professional on what the best method is.
There are currently different methods of lightening your tooth color. I will review one each week or so as to educate you on the differences of these suggested methods.
Over the Counter (brushing, bleaching strips, bleaching pens, bleaching gels, and