Over time, your teeth can begin to yellow, grey or even become brown due to staining. The best way to keep your teeth pearly white is through consistent home care and frequent professional cleanings. Your teeth can change color for several reasons:
Food and Drink | Coffee, tea and red wine have intense color pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth (enamel) and create major staining.
Tobacco Use | Tar and nicotine found in tobacco create stubborn stains. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colorless until it is mixed with oxygen, turning into a yellowish, surface-staining substance.
Age | Below the enamel is a softer area called dentin. Over time, the outer enamel layer becomes thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.
Trauma | If you’ve ever been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change color because it reacts to an injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.
Medications | Certain medications such as antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications may cause tooth darkening as a side effect. Children exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline when their teeth are forming may have discoloration of their adult teeth later in life. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.
What Are My Options?
One way to lighten teeth is with over the counter “white strips”. However, the concentration of the bleaching agent in these products is lower than what your dentist would use in the office. It is important to remember, whitening will not work on veneers, crowns or fillings. Additionally, it will not be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.
The best option is professionally supervised in-office whitening and custom fitted take-home trays. It may be a little more expensive but professional supervision is really the best way to make certain that you get the greatest results.
If you have additional issues that need to be addressed like chipped or crooked teeth, one alternative is porcelain laminate veneers (PLVs). PLV’s are custom laboratory-fabricated thin slivers of porcelain that are bonded to the outer layer of one’s teeth. This method not only improves the color of the teeth but also changes the shape and can make them look straighter.
Dr. Cheryl Lindgren provides cosmetic, family, and preventive dentistry with a gentle touch. Your comfort is her top priority, and along with a compassionate staff, they have taken countless steps to create a comfortable environment for you and your loved ones.