Fix Stained Teeth
For most people, having a radiant white smile is important and can have a positive impact on self-confidence. With even the best oral hygiene regimen, our teeth are prone to discoloration over time. Things like age, genetics, trauma, medications, and the foods and drinks we consume can all contribute to our teeth losing their luster. Several options are available to safely remove stains from teeth which will be the focus of this article.
Professional Teeth Whitening Options
Get Regular Cleanings: Some patients have naturally white teeth but appear discolored due to plaque buildup. Plaque is a sticky substance that accumulates on the teeth from drinking, eating, and just living life. If not removed with regular flossing and brushing, plaque hardens into tartar and can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and discoloration. Dental hygienists remove plaque and tartar during cleanings with a scraping tool.
In-Office Bleaching Trays: In-office treatments use bleaching solutions that contain much higher percentages of peroxide than their at-home counterparts. Dentists frequently supplement light, heat, or the combination of both to intensify or expedite the whitening process. Often, patients will notice their teeth will be 3 to 8 shades brighter especially if multiple sessions are scheduled.
Porcelain Veneers: Tooth staining that is severe, caused by age or genetics, or does not respond to other whitening treatments, may require a more extensive remedy. Porcelain veneers are often recommended in these cases. Using thin sheets of tooth-colored resin or porcelain, veneers are adhered to the tooth surface to provide a whiter, natural looking smile. If fluorosis, trauma, or tetracycline has caused the tooth dentin to darken, veneers may be an especially good treatment.
At-home Teeth Whitening Options
- Whitening Toothpastes: Virtually every toothpaste contains abrasives designed to remove stains, but whitening toothpastes also contain chemicals or polishing agents to make them more effective. Depending on what caused the tooth discoloration, regular use of these products could potentially whiten teeth a few shades.
- Whitening Strips or Gels: Used two times per day for a couple of weeks, these peroxide-based products are applied directly to the teeth to remove mild staining. Available over the counter, these whitening products come as strips or as a gel that can be applied to the teeth with a brush.
- At-Home Bleaching Trays: Using plastic trays filled with peroxide-based bleaching pastes or gels, this home remedy can improve mild to moderate tooth discoloration. Used daily over the course of a month, the trays hold the bleaching agent against the teeth for a set amount of time. Costing $150-$300, at-home trays can produce decent results for mild staining but because the bleaching agent is weaker than professional treatments, results will not be as pronounced.
- Limit Consumption of Staining Foods and Beverages: A final way to combat tooth discoloration is to limit the consumption of things that lead to staining in the first place. This is particularly important for patients that have undergone professional whitening treatments that want to protect their investment. Avoiding things like black coffee, red wine, colas, tea, tomato-based products, and berries, can help prevent the development of discoloration.