A white smile is important to most everyone. Regular tooth brushings and flossing are vital to a healthy, fresh, white set of teeth, but other factors can have influence on the color of teeth. The food and drink we partake in every day can have a major influence on the color of our teeth. Tea, wine, and coffee can all be likely culprits for stained teeth. Tobacco, both smoked and dipped, stains teeth (not to mention that it’s also a very unhealthy habit for anyone). As we age the enamel begins to wear thin and the dentin, a yellowish, softer area of the tooth below the enamel, begins to show through. Damage to the teeth can also cause discoloration, while medications such as certain types of antihistamines, antipsychotics, and some high blood pressure medications can also cause tooth discoloration or darkening. A continued regimen may not be enough to keep our teeth white, sometimes we may need to visit the dentist.
There are a few different ways to whiten your smile and your dentists will be able to determine which is the right way for you. Not all types of tooth discoloration will be fixed by these processes, and those that have crowns, veneers, fillings, and caps will not benefit from a whitening treatment to these areas.
The first method for whitening teeth is a whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpastes use abrasives to remove the surface stains on teeth. These toothpastes will not change the color of teeth, they will only remove the stains. The second option is a bleaching treatment at the dentist office. This will usually only require one visit. Your dentist may send you home with a whitening tray, in which peroxide whiteners are placed in a tray that fits over your teeth. Whitening strips could also be used.
Remember to continue to practice good oral health, brushing twice daily and flossing every day. While there are no serious side effects to tooth whitening—tooth sensitivity to the peroxide being the primary side effect—long term use, or overuse of whiteners can damage the teeth or gums. Make sure when you are using whiteners to consult your dentist before use.
For more information about teeth whitening, contact Brian Francis DMD, a Billings Dentist!