Can tooth discoloration be prevented?
Many causes of tooth discoloration cannot be controlled, such as aging, genetics, environment, trauma, disease, and medications. However, sometimes it is possible to prevent tooth discoloration by just making a few simple lifestyle changes. For example, cutting back or quitting smoking, coffee, tea, or red wine consumption, which are all common causes of tooth staining. In addition, improving dental hygiene practices, like regular brushing and flossing, and seeing your dental hygienist at least twice a year for dental cleanings (prophylaxis).
What treatment options are available for whitening your teeth?
If you desire whiter teeth, you should consult with a dental professional. Treatment options can vary depending on the cause of discoloration and may include:
- Using over-the-counter whitening agents including whitening toothpastes that can act as gentle surface whiteners.
- Seeing a dental professional who uses professional whitening products and procedures that are stronger in concentration to remove deeper stains.
- Having your prosthodontist apply dental veneers (porcelain or composite resin material bonded over the front or visible part of the tooth). This may be the only effective option in cases where tooth whitening procedures are unable to completely remove the discoloration or staining.
How do whitening toothpastes work?
Whitening toothpastes remove stains on the surface of your teeth. They are the gentlest of the whitening treatment options. They work by polishing-action rather than by chemical-action and have few side effects. However, they do not get teeth as white when compared to chemical products. Whitening toothpastes can lighten teeth, but a little at a time.
How do home use whiteners work?
Home-use whiteners are in stock at Stuart Prosthetic Dentistry. They contain a chemical called peroxide, which gets below the surface to lighten tooth enamel. Home-use whiteners are meant to be used over days or weeks. They come in varying concentrations. Depending on your circumstances, we may only recommend over-the-counter prescription level products (stock trays or strips), while others may need custom trays and higher concentration whitening gels for better results.
We will make custom whitening trays for your upper and lower teeth. You will be shown how to put the whitening gel in the trays. It is important to keep it off the gums to avoid irritation. You will also be advised on how long and when to wear them. If you wear the trays for too long, the peroxide in the gel may harm your tooth enamel.
Who should avoid tooth whitening?
Tooth whitening is not a good choice for all people. It is important to consider the following:
- If you have gum recession (gums are pulled away from teeth), whitening may irritate these areas.
- Active tooth decay (cavities) and periodontal (gum) disease should be treated before whitening.
- The color of your restorative dentistry (fillings, crowns, implant restorations) and some heavy stains cannot be changed by tooth whitening.
Are there any side effects to tooth whitening?
Whitening treatment may cause your teeth to be sensitive to very hot or cold temperatures. Whitening may also irritate your gums for a short time. If the side effects do not go away after a few days, contact our office.