Teeth discolor or stain for a variety of reasons. Common causes include poor oral hygiene; darkly colored drinks, such as coffee, tea, and red wine; antibiotics; thin enamel; and smoking. Depending on the type of stain, teeth whitening or may prove effective for removing stains and restoring your sparkling smile.
External teeth whitening, or bleaching, can remove most extrinsic stains. These are stains formed on the surface of tooth enamel. Pigments in foods, beverages, and tobacco cause extrensic stains.
Types of Teeth Bleaching
In-office bleaching with a light brightens teeth by dehydration, and Dr. Fondriest does not believe dehydrating teeth is a healthy practice. With these types of systems, asecond treatment is often required to lighten the color of teeth. Transluminescent bleaching treatments can also cause negative side effects, like gum and pulpal irritation or tooth sensitivity. Dr. Fondriest offers at-home bleaching products that he has found to be safe and effective.
We use a product called Nite White Excel 3, a liquid gel that will whiten your teeth as you sleep. This particular gel comes in carbamide peroxide concentrations from 7.5% to 22% strengths. While you may see results overnight, the maximum effect usually requires nightly bleaching for 30-60 days. We also offer a daytime whitening kit for those with sensitive teeth. This comes in hydrogen peroxide concentrations from 7.5% to 9.5%. Many patients who’ve not had sufficient results with over-the-counter bleaching kits find the more potent, dentist-prescribed kits extremely effective.
Many of the tougher stains to remove are actually intrinsic, or inside teeth. Fluorosis, for instance, is caused by swallowing fluoride during childhood, when teeth are growing. It causes white, horizontal lines to form in enamel. Another example is tetracycline staining. Medications, such as antibiotics, contain tetracycline that can cause teeth to discolor from within. These stains are usually not affected by external teeth whitening systems.
Another common problem, thin enamel may allow the yellowish hue of underlying dentin to show. Sometimes a person’s dentin is naturally dark, while other times a person’s dentin may become stained. Either way, thin enamel can give teeth a discolored appearance.
Addressing Harsh Stains
Intrinsic stains, or extrensic stains that don’t resolve with external bleaching, can be addressed with porcelain veneers, cosmetic bonding, or all-ceramic crowns. While these restorative dental procedures are more invasive than external bleaching, they can correct other cosmetic issues, such as odd spacing of teeth, chips, and slight misalignments.
Schedule an Appointment
If you have discolored or stained teeth and would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest, please call our Lake Forest Dental office at (847) 234-0517.