Tooth whitening is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. It is the most popular treatment by both men and women alike and the treatments available range from one-hour one-time dental visits to take-home do-it-yourself kits. Tooth whitening is popular because it can significantly improve the appearance of your teeth at much less cost and inconvenience than other techniques.
Yellow or stained teeth are a common problem most Americans will develop at some point in their lives but can remedy with proper treatment. Our teeth contain enamel, a porcelain-like surface that started out sparkling white. Tooth enamel is designed to protect the teeth from the effects of chewing, gnashing, trauma and acid attacks caused by sugar. Over time, our enamel starts to hold stains within its pores and becomes more transparent and permits the yellow color of dentin, the tooth's core material, to show through. As more stains and debris accumulate because of normal wear and tear and eating habits, the teeth develop a dull, lackluster appearance.
Tooth whitening exists to remove the stains and debris associated with diet and aging, and there are various solutions available.
Causes of Tooth Staining
Food and diet are the most common culprits of teeth discoloration, but there are a number of causes that can incite discolored teeth. Below is a list of the top causes of teeth stains and discoloration:
Medicine- Some over-the-counter medications and antibiotics can dull your teeth. Minocycline, a derivative of Tetracycline (a bacteria fighting antibiotic) has been shown to turn teeth yellow in small children and can cause a permanent bluish-gray stain in adults. There are certain antihistamines that can also discolor teeth. Your dentist will able to tell you if your medications are impacting the color of your teeth and if there may be alternatives to their use.
Excessive Fluoride- Fluoride in large concentrations can cause chalky white spots to appear on your teeth. Fluoride is generally good for teeth however people can get too much fluoride from drinking water with high concentrations of fluoride, or from excessive use of fluoride-containing toothpastes. A good suggestion would be to use a sensible pea-sized amount of toothpaste each time you brush.
Genetics and Aging- As you age the enamel of your teeth wears thin and the natural yellow or brown color of the underlying dentin layer shows through. Also genetics play a role as some people just have naturally brighter or thicker enamel than others.
Dental Damage- Trauma such as injury or falls can produce sizable cracks in the teeth, which collect large amounts of stains and debris.