Stained teeth can be just as embarrassing as misaligned or disfigured teeth. Even dulled and yellowed teeth may make you pause before readily sharing your smile.
But there are ways to overcome staining and restore the natural brilliance your teeth should have. It begins first with finding the cause of the discoloration and using the appropriate techniques to brighten your smile once again.
There are two types of tooth staining that can occur: Outside of the tooth (extrinsic) or Inside the tooth (intrinsic).
Extrinsic stains happen because of the structure of tooth enamel. While your teeth may feel smooth, the enamel actually contains microscopic depressions. These have a tendency to catch and retain stain-producing substances that come into our mouths. Food or beverages like red wine or tea (with chemicals called tannins) can stain, as well as tobacco. Even substances used for oral hygiene, like the anti-bacterial ingredient chlorhexidine (Corsodyl mouthwash), can stain teeth after long term use. Smoking is also a very common form of staining that can be removed.
Among its many properties, saliva helps clear the mouth of food debris after we eat. When saliva levels are too low more food particles remain in the mouth longer, increasing the potential staining effect of these foods.
Intrinsic stains on the other hand, stems from causes within the tooth. Certain materials used for dental fillings or traumatic tooth injuries can alter tooth colour significantly. In some cases, the tooth may not appear discoloured viewed by itself, but stands out in relation to nearby teeth with a different shade of colour. Antibiotic treatment, particularly tetracycline may also cause intrinsic staining if taken during tooth development as a child, however this is rare.
This depends on whether the staining has an extrinsic or intrinsic cause. For some extrinsic staining, changes in diet and lifestyle, like avoiding or limiting foods known to stain or quitting the use of any form of tobacco, will help reduce mild staining. Along with flossing, twice-daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste that contains a whitening agent can remove stain-causing food remnants and add some brightness to your teeth. Twice-yearly visits to your dentist or hygienist for professional teeth cleaning and polishing can also reduce extrinsic staining.
Teeth whitening (or bleaching) is another option, especially for extrinsic staining that doesn’t fully respond to lifestyle or hygiene changes. Most teeth whitening choices are either home kits from your dentist, or professional applications by a dental provider. Both types use similar bleaching agents; the chemical concentrations in professional applications, though, are usually stronger, and along with other techniques can produce a brighter result with one session (as opposed to several weeks for home kits). Professional applications will also last longer on average before fading, a year or more if you limit staining foods in your diet and practice consistent hygiene.
Here at Estetica we have a fantastic offer called ZOOM TUESDAY. At only £198 for Zoom instant whitening along with a home kit (normally £450) it is the perfect combination for keeping teeth white for longer. Find out from our reception and pick up a small booklet.
Only a dentist can perform bleaching techniques for stains originating inside a tooth, since it requires access to the tooth’s interior. One such technique places a bleaching agent in a tooth’s pulp chamber during a root canal treatment before the dentist fills and seals the tooth.
Making the Right Choices for Treating Stained Teeth
Your dentist is your best source for advice on what types of treatments will work best for you and the costs involved. Knowing all the facts will help you make the right choices to brighten and reinvigorate your smile.