Just as hair and skin come in a range of natural hues, teeth also come in various shades of white, some of which are lighter and brighter. But no matter what shade of white your teeth are naturally, staining and discoloration can make them look dull, yellow, or gray.
Depending on its cause, tooth discoloration can be a gradual process or something that happens in a relatively short amount of time. Some of the most common reasons that your pearly whites may not be so bright anymore include:
Tooth enamel gets thinner with age, which allows the yellowish dentin layer beneath your enamel to show through and make your teeth appear less white.
Coffee, tea, red wine, and berries are all known to stain teeth with their intense pigments, which readily stick to tooth enamel.
Certain prescription drugs, including antihistamines and medication for high blood pressure, can cause tooth discoloration.
Smokers often have dull, discolored teeth, because both tar and nicotine leave tough stains on tooth enamel.
The most common in-office teeth whitening treatments are:
The most common approach to teeth whitening in the dental office is professional bleaching, also known as chairside bleaching. During this treatment, a rubber shield protects your lips and gums from the bleach, which is applied directly to your teeth. As the powerful bleaching agents start breaking down, oxygen penetrates the enamel to help lift stains and lighten the color of your teeth.
This new, state-of-the-art procedure involves the use of a special whitening gel that’s activated by an LED laser. During this treatment, your lips and gums are shielded before the whitening gel is applied to your teeth. When the laser activates the whitening agent in the gel, it speeds the process of breaking up stains and removing discoloration.
Whitening isn’t effective for all types of discoloration, so it’s important to have Dr. Gertsen examine your teeth to make sure that you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Whitening treatments are only effective for natural teeth, and don’t work well on veneers, bonding, crowns, or bridges. Yellowed teeth typically bleach well, while brown teeth bleach poorly, and grey teeth usually don’t bleach at all.
Teeth whitening can cause your teeth to be more sensitive than usual, but any increased sensitivity should subside within a few days.
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