The holidays are just around the corner and the time to gather with friends and family is nearly upon us. Many of my patients have an affinity to inquire about whitening their teeth around this time of year. They want to look and feel their best around those they love. That is not to say that having perfectly white teeth should be a standard because it most certainly is not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is also something to be said about “chicklet”-looking, overly white teeth. This to me is undesirable and can in many cases look worse than not doing anything at all. It all comes down to what your expectations are and if whiter teeth are important to YOU!
Why do our teeth darken? There are many factors:
- Coffee, tea, red wine, dark colas are commonly known to stain teeth. Think of it this way: if your afraid the beverage will stain your white tablecloth, it will also stain your teeth!
- Smoking. Just another reason to quit already!
- Excess fluoridation as a child
- Tetracycline use during gestation and/or as a young child
- Trauma to your tooth. The nerve and blood vessels have died inside your tooth and now your tooth appears dark
- Age. As we age the enamel thins out and the secondary tooth layer (dentin) begins to show through with its characteristically yellow color
- Dentinogenesis imperfecta is a rare genetic disorder where the all teeth appear blue-grey or yellow-brown
Certainly, whiter teeth can make you look and feel many years younger. It is a wonderful service dentists can offer their patients. But with so many solutions to whiter teeth available today, which ones are the safest and have the best outcomes?
Prevention is always the preferred route in the treatment of darkened teeth. However, if you have found that your teeth have become darker, here are some answers to the typical questions regarding whitening your teeth:
- Good home care via brushing, flossing and rinsing after meals as well as regular cleanings by your hygienist will help remove surface stains
- Professional whitening. It is my opinion that custom made whitening trays made to fit your teeth precisely delivers the best and safest results. Find out the options available and the pros and cons of each (as with every treatment)
- Cosmetic dental treatments such as veneers and bonding can change the color and shape of your teeth. These treatments may or may not require some existing tooth structure to be removed for optimal results
- Over-the-counter whitening strips and toothpastes contain a weaker concentration of bleaching material and will only remove minor stains. They will not actually change the color of your teeth.
- You may need to have your tooth bleached from the inside (internal bleaching) if the resulting darkening is due to a traumatized tooth
I recommend that if you are interested in whitening your teeth to find out what your options are. It is worth mentioning that existing bondings, fillings, crowns and veneers will not change color with whitening treatments. Therefore, it is recommended to whiten your teeth prior to selecting a final shade for your new restoration so that everything blends together. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to call or send an email and we will help answer any questions you may have.