If you’ve ever felt like you’d like a lighter, brighter smile, you are not alone. Tooth colour is one of the most common complaints patients bring to the attention of their dentist. Sometimes, regardless of regular dental cleanings and consistent brushing and flossing, teeth can still stain and discolour with time. There are two main types of tooth staining. These two types are internal staining and external staining.
This type of staining is from within the tooth structure and cannot be cleaned away with brushing, flossing, or at your routine dental visit. Internal staining is typically yellow/brown and can be caused by many different factors such as smoking, medications, tooth trauma, medical conditions, old dental work and age.
External staining is the type of stain that accumulates on the outer surface of the teeth, which can be removed at routine dental cleanings. This type of stain typically appears darker in colour. It can be caused by consuming dark pigmented foods & beverages such as tea, coffee and red wine, some medications/supplements and smoking.
So, how does tooth whitening work? Typical tooth whitening contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which enter into the microscopic tubules of the teeth to help break down stains and lighten the tooth colour. For some in-office whitening, a UV light is also used to help aid the action of the whitening product. It is important to note that whitening doesn’t offer a guaranteed result, and certain tooth shades don’t whiten as well, such as grey or brown shades. In addition, dental restorations do not whiten, such as fillings, crowns and veneers.
There are several options available for teeth whitening, ranging in price. Inexpensive tooth whitening options include toothpaste, mouthwash, and gum, which may only offer favourable results. More expensive options such as whitening with custom trays at home or in-office whitening will offer a brighter, longer-lasting result. It is essential to talk with your dentist about which option is recommended for you.