It is commonly known that foods and drinks like berries, tomato sauce, wine, coffee, and tea, and smoking cause teeth to discolor over time, a lesser known fact is that teeth naturally get darker with age and end up yellowish or grayish in color.
Having a beautiful set of pearly whites can mean more than just a dazzling smile; a healthy and stain-free set of teeth can boost your confidence and contribute to your physical appearance too. No wonder teeth whitening procedure is a booming industry raking in $11 million annually!
If you, like many others, are bothered by your teeth stains, you probably have resorted to buying and using whitening toothpastes and over-the-counter teeth whitening products several times. While these products can work, the extent of their effectiveness depends on the type of teeth stains you have.
Then there’s also professional teeth whitening to consider, so if you’re confused about which way to go, you’ve come to the right place! Read on for some information on teeth stains and teeth whitening procedures to help you decide what’s best for you.
Causes of Teeth Stains
While it is commonly known that foods and drinks like berries, tomato sauce, wine, coffee, and tea, and smoking cause teeth to discolor over time, a lesser known fact is that teeth naturally get darker with age and end up yellowish or grayish in color. This is known as intrinsic staining and can also develop as a result of overexposure to fluoride during childhood, exposure to certain antibiotics in utero or as a child, or trauma to the mouth.
Extrinsic stains are dark and discolor only the outer enamel layer of teeth, which is why teeth whitening procedures are most effective on them.
Teeth Whitening Procedures
Teeth whitening procedures are mainly of two types- non-vital whitening and vital whitening. A non-vital whitening procedure is performed when the stained tooth no longer has a live nerve; for example, a tooth that has had root canal treatment performed on it.
Since such teeth are stained from the inside, your dentist will have to place a whitening agent inside the teeth and then cover it with a temporary filling.
On the other hand, vital whitening procedures require application of whitening materials on the surface of teeth. Here are some such procedures.
• Whitening Rinses
These are like normal mouthwashes and help reduce gum disease and plaque. Additionally, they contain whitening ingredients like hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth.
It is recommended to swish around whitening rinses in the mouth for about 60 seconds twice daily before brushing. Note that this procedure may not be effective enough as the rinse remains in contact with the teeth for a very short time.
• Whitening Toothpastes
In addition to mild abrasives, whitening toothpastes contain chemical agents that can remove surface stains and lighten the color of your teeth by one shade.
• Whitening Strips and Gels
These over-the-counter products are peroxide-based and give quick results in just a few days. The strength of the peroxide varies in whitening strips and gels, so you’ll have to follow instructions accordingly.
• Whitening Trays
A tray-based tooth whitening system involves wearing a mouth guard filled with a whitening gel. Wearing such a tray for a particular amount of time each day for up to a month or longer can produce desired results.
That being said, over-the-counter trays can rub against your gums and cause discomfort. There’s also the possibility of the whitening gel touching your gums. A better option is to go for custom-fitted mouthpiece trays- you only have to visit your dentist and allow him to take an impression of your teeth!
• In-Office Whitening
This procedure is performed in the clinic by a dentist and involves using a powerful whitening gel. A substance will first be applied to your gums to prevent the gel from touching them, followed by application of the gel on your teeth. Laser or specialized light is then shone on the gel to activate it.
In-office whitening takes 30-90 minutes and you may need a couple of appointments depending on the stains. Nevertheless, this procedure produces the best results.
Choosing a Teeth Whitening Procedure
Over-the-counter teeth whitening procedures are cheaper compared to the in-office whitening procedure. However, if your teeth are heavily stained, you may not get desired results using whitening gels, toothpastes, strips, or trays.
Going for a professional treatment will not only give you long-lasting and remarkable results, your dentist will also be able to address any other dental issues you may have. Your dentist will also make sure that your teeth don’t get whiter than crowns or composite fillings that you may have!
Teeth Whitening Aftercare
Irrespective of the type of teeth whitening procedure you choose, you need to know that none of the procedures will give permanent results. So practice good oral hygiene and keep these points in mind:
Do not eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes after treatment.
Avoid smoking for up to 12 hours after the whitening procedure.
Refrain from eating foods and drinking liquids that can stain teeth for up to 12 hours.
Whenever possible, drink beverages like tea and coffee using a straw so as to minimize contact with your teeth.
Brush teeth or rinse mouth immediately after eating foods that can stain teeth.
With the information provided here, you now know all you need to about teeth stains and teeth whitening procedures. So don’t wait any longer, take the right decision and turn your life around for the better!
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