Porcelain white teeth are highly sought after. So, it’s no surprise that teeth whitening treatments are very popular. Bright white teeth look healthy, young and glamorous; who doesn’t want teeth like that?
While possessing white teeth doesn’t necessarily translate to great dental health, it is usually a good indicator of healthy teeth. However, like us, our teeth will age, and over time become more stained and yellow. By understanding the causes and most effective treatments for staining, you could keep your pearly white smile for decades to come.
Causes of Stained Teeth
There are two types of discolouration that will happen over time.
The first is when external substances with dark pigmentations become embedded in the little grooves and pits on your teeth. Food and drink such as red wine, coffee, and even some berries can stain the surface of your teeth. Smoking can also significantly contribute to staining. Over time, these substances can accumulate and give an overall appearance of yellowing.
Additionally, bacteria can build up on the teeth. This build-up forms dental plaque, which can cause your teeth to look yellow.
The second cause of discolouration is a result of forces that wear away at the pearly-white, protective layer of your teeth: enamel. Underneath the enamel is a generally darker, more yellow layer named dentin. As the enamel layer wears away and becomes more transparent, the dentin becomes easily visible, giving the impression of yellowing teeth. Enamel wears away over time, but this can be accelerated by a range of lifestyle factors.
How to Avoid Stained Teeth
One of the simplest ways to avoid staining your teeth further is to limit the foods and drinks in your diet which are particularly acidic (as this wears down the enamel), or otherwise contain a lot of staining, dark pigmented compounds. This can include:
- Coffee and tea
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Wine (red and white)
- Fruit juices
- Soy sauces
- Balsamic vinegar
- Tomato based sauces and curries
While these foods aren’t inherently bad for your dental health, they can accelerate natural discolouration if not monitored.
You can continue to enjoy these foods and drinks with a few simple tricks.
When consuming sugary or fruity drinks, you should use a straw to minimise contact with your teeth. Rinsing thoroughly after every meal with water or mouthwash will help to remove any loose, staining material from the teeth. Compliment meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, as they act as natural abrasives to remove compounds that get stuck in the teeth.
Lastly, ensure that you’re brushing at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. This counteracts some of the natural processes of tooth demineralisation and exposes the dentin.
How to Treat Stained Teeth
Teeth whitening procedures use an active ingredient called hydrogen peroxide to bleach the teeth from within.
Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water when used on the teeth. The oxygen then works on the enamel and dentin to bleach any discoloured material. It is a completely safe and established tool for dentists, and is used in small enough concentrations to not be dangerous.
With in-chair whitening, or whitening performed in a dentist’s office, hydrogen peroxide is applied to the teeth and activated by a safe low-level laser to break down. This can be accompanied by some scaling and polishing to remove any other discolouring substances like tartar and plaque.
Otherwise, home whitening can be similarly effective. This involves wearing mouthguard-like trays overnight, which are lined with hydrogen peroxide. The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the discolouration.
While home whitening may be initially more convenient and comfortable, in-chair whitening will provide instant results. Either way, these procedures should be evaluated by your dentist to find out what’s best for your schedule and your teeth.
Veneers are an excellent solution for discoloured teeth resulting from enamel wear. Simply put, these are shells that are chemically bonded to the surface of the teeth (usually constructed of durable materials like porcelain). Veneers are used primarily to restore functionality to broken or chipped teeth, but have the added bonus of instantly providing a bright white smile.
Porcelain veneers in particular are incredibly stain resistant. This is because they are made to have an incredibly smooth surface, meaning that there are no grooves or pits that staining pigments can get stuck into. Beyond keeping their shine exceptionally well, these can last a long time, ensuring that you’ll save on maintenance costs.
Book An Appointment with Dr George Olstein
If you would like to book an appointment, or simply have a few queries such as the cost of veneers please call 03 9510 1644. Our friendly team is more than happy to help. Alternatively, complete our easy online booking request form.