- Patient Education
Millions of Americans have stained and discolored teeth and would like to whiten and brighten their smile. When dental professionals asked people what they’d most like to improve about their smile, the most common response was whiter teeth.
Understanding teeth whitening starts with understanding tooth staining. There are two basic types of stains that affect your teeth, and your smile!
Extrinsic stains are on the surface of the tooth. Their causes include:
- Tobacco products
- Foods and drinks such as berries, coffee, tea and red wine
- Tartar (which forms when plaque remains on the teeth)
Intrinsic stains are beneath the surface and are difficult to remove. These stains become part of the tooth and can be caused by:
- Excessive fluoride use
- Certain medications taken during tooth development
How to get Whiter Teeth using Teeth Whitening Products
Just as there are several causes of tooth staining and discoloration, there are several solutions.
Options for teeth whitening products include whitening toothpastes which contain mild abrasives which scrub the teeth removing surface stains to make them whiter. Some toothpaste also contains peroxide or phosphates to help remove and prevent stain. Rinse with a whitening mouthwash which provides gentle foaming action to safely protect against future stains and can get to hard-to-reach places. At-home bleaching kits use strips or whitening gels with trays and actually bleach the tooth enamel. In-office bleaching usually requires one trip to the dental office where bleach is applied to the teeth – this procedure may be enhanced by the use of a special light or laser.
Teeth whitening procedures may not work on all types of tooth discoloration and will not whiten crowns, fillings or bonded teeth. You may experience some sensitivity when using whiteners but this is usually temporary. If you have any issues when whitening your teeth, consult with your dental professional. In addition to preventing new stains, regular cleanings by a dental professional can remove surface stains. You can also remove stains and whiten teeth with professional whitening treatment at your dental office.