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Teeth Whitening

What Factors Affect the Color of My Teeth?

Some people are born with teeth that are more yellow than others. Others have teeth that yellow with age.

Your natural tooth color can also be affected by many factors.

  1. Surface stains (called extrinsic stains by dentists) and discoloration can be caused by:
    • Tobacco (whether smoked or chewed).
    • Drinking coffee, tea, or red wine.
    • Eating highly pigmented foods such as cherries and blueberries.
  2. Accumulation of tartar deposits, which result from plaque that has hardened Internal stains
    (called intrinsic stains by dentists) can be caused by:
    • Treatment with the antibiotic tetracycline during the time when teeth are forming.
    • Yellowing or graying of the teeth as part of the aging process.
    • Trauma to the teeth that may result in the death of the tooth's nerve, giving the tooth a brown,
    • gray or black color.
    • Ingesting too much fluoride when teeth are forming (from birth to age 16), which gives teeth a "mottled" look.

What are Ways to Whiten Teeth?

Thorough cleanings by a hygienist will remove most external staining caused by food and tobacco. Using a whitening toothpaste can also help remove these surface stains between dental visits. If stains have been present for years, you may need to have your teeth professionally whitened to remove these more stubborn external stains. Internal stains can be bleached, bonded or capped (crowned). While each of these methods is safe and effective, your dentist will recommend which treatment is appropriate for you.

How Does Tooth Whitening Work?

Whitening can be done either in a dentist's office or at home, using a system dispensed by your dentist. Both methods use tooth-bleaching gels that oxidize out the stain. It's not uncommon for teeth to become slightly sensitive during the whitening process.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening before and after

At-Home Whitening

At-home whitening is the more popular approach today. Your dentist takes an impression of
your teeth and makes a custom-fitted tray, which you fill with a whitening gel and wear up to
two hours daily or at night for about two weeks. Many whitening kits prescribed by dentists
today contain a solution of 10-15% carbamide peroxide. When done under the supervision of
your dentist, at-home whitening is very effective.

In-office whitening

Less frequent and more expensive, this procedure takes from 30 minutes to one hour per visit,
and you may have to return for several visits to achieve the desired whiteness. To protect your
mouth, a gel-like substance may be applied to your gums and a rubber "shield" may be placed
around the necks of the teeth. An oxidizing agent (the bleaching solution) is then applied to your
teeth. Sometimes, a special light is used at five-minute intervals to help activate the whitening agent.

Do you want a beautiful smile? Whitening your teeth is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your smile and boost your self-confidence. Imagine, a single whitening procedure can counteract years of exposure to coffee, tea, red wine, cola and smoking, giving you the smile you've always dreamed of!