Summer time is a perfect time for a bright smile. When you meet new people, your smile is one of the first things they notice. A first impression can hinge on that wonderful smile of yours. Do you smile openly, or are you embarrassed of your smile? Whether you’re going for an interview, meeting your new boss, or going on a date, a smile goes a long way. If your smile needs a little brightening your Lake Forest Dentist, Dr. Fondriest, specializes in cosmetic dentistry and will be happy to discuss tooth whitening solutions.
Do you wonder how teeth become stained even if you brush them twice a day? Foods and beverages stain our teeth. It doesn’t take long-term exposure either. Deep, more intensely colored foods stain our teeth the most, and some of those intensely colored foods are actually very healthy for us. Foods high in acidity, tannins, or chromogens are more likely to cause stains.
- Acidity: Foods and beverages high in acidity can soften tooth enamel and cause enamel erosion. When the enamel begins to thin or erode, it is easier for chromogens to stick to teeth and cause staining.
- Chromogens: Chromogens are intensely-pigmented molecules in foods and beverages that stick to tooth enamel and discolor teeth.
- Tannins: Tannins are yellow to light brown compounds found in plants. They strongly react with proteins, including the proteins in your saliva and your teeth. They are also known to help chromogens stick to tooth enamel.
- Oral Bacteria: Although not stain causing themselves, certain, harmful, oral bacteria convert sugars and starches in your mouth into acid that wears away tooth enamel. The weakened enamel provides a more suitable surface for chromogens to attach to, increasing your risk of stained teeth.
The active ingredient in tooth whitening treatments is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide which works by penetrating tooth enamel and creating a chemical reaction with the dentin of the tooth, brightening its appearance. Some sensitivity following tooth whitening is natural but it should subside. Tooth whitening treatments are designed to remove stains on or near the surface of the teeth. If the stains or discoloration are deep into the dentin, tooth whitening treatments may not be effective. If this is the case there are other cosmetic options for brightening your smile including dental bonding, veneers, and dental crowns. In-office whitening treatments can be performed in about an hour. Take-home treatments can be done over a two week period.
Stain Causing Foods
Some of the most common stain-causing foods and beverages include:
- Dark soft drinks like cola
- Highly acidic sports drinks
- Hard candy and gummy candy that contain food dyes.
- Deep pigmented fruits such as pomegranates, blueberries, and blackberries
Some ways to try to avoid tooth stains are to:
- Keep your tooth enamel healthy by eating foods high in calcium and phosphate. These include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, and most meats, including chicken, beef, and turkey.
- Use a straw when drinking intensely pigmented beverages such as cola’s and red wine.
- Brush soon after eating or drinking deeper colored foods, but not if they were highly acidic. As stated earlier, acid can soften your enamel and brushing too soon afterward can cause damage by wearing it away.
- Rinse vigorously with water–especially if the food or beverage was highly acidic–to neutralize acids and wash away left-over chromogens.
- Chew sugarless gum.
After a tooth whitening treatment don’t forget to keep practicing proper oral hygiene. Brush twice a day for two minutes, floss daily, and visit your dentist twice yearly to keep your teeth healthy and attractive. If you have questions regarding tooth whitening treatments or more ways to avoid tooth stains, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest. He will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.
About Your Lake Forest Dentist:
Aside from providing expert family and cosmetic dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds highly-respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule your consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.