We all love white teeth. Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with pearly whites, even if we brush and floss every day. In fact, when a survey was done by the American Association of Orthodontists, it was found that 90% of the dental patients wanted to get their teeth whitened!
Why Do Teeth Change Color Over Time?
There are several reasons why our teeth change color over time. Here are the main reasons.
Food and Drinks
There are many types of beverages that can discolor our teeth, the most common of which are coffee, tea, sodas and red wine. This is because these types of drinks contain strong color pigments known as chromogens. These chromogens attach to the enamel of our teeth and make them change color.
Foods with tomato-based sauces, curries, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and so on also discolor our teeth the same way.
Not only is tobacco bad for our health, but it also stains our teeth brown. There are two main chemicals in tobacco that stain our teeth are tar and nicotine.
As we age, the enamel on our teeth begins to thin. And as this happens, the second layer – the dentin – gets exposed. The dentin, unlike enamel is not white; it is actually yellowish in color. So, over time, our teeth start yellowing.
Did you know that trauma to your teeth can also cause them to get discolored? This is because if injure your tooth, the body protects that tooth by thickening the layer of dentin. This means that the tooth will get more yellow and discolored.
Medications can also lead to your teeth getting discolored, especially antihistamines, high blood pressure medications and antipsychotics.
Those exposed to antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline when they were either in the womb or as babies may also have discolored teeth as adults. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy of the neck and head can also cause discoloration in your teeth.
How Are Your Teeth Whitened?
The process of teeth whitening is a simple one. There are two options of bleaches – carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Both these types of bleaches break down the stains on your teeth into smaller pieces, thereby making the staining less intense, and that is what makes your teeth look brighter.
Does Teeth Whitening Work on Everyone?
No, it doesn’t. Yellowed teeth tend to respond well to these teeth whitening bleaches. However, brown stains don’t react as well, and teeth with grey discoloration don’t show any improvement.
Additionally, if you have crowns, caps, fillings or veneers on your teeth, then those will not be affected by the bleach either. If your teeth are discolored because of medication or an injury, then you will be wasting your money on trying to whiten them.
Which is why it is best to consult with your dentist before you spend money on getting your teeth whitened.
Teeth Whitening Methods
There are various ways in which you can whiten your teeth –
You can get a custom-made bleaching agent from your dentist that you can use at home. Your dentist will also give you detailed instructions on how you can use this bleach.
Called chairside bleaching, this bleaching is done at the dentist’s office, and usually just takes one visit.
Stain Removing Toothpastes
You can use whitening toothpastes that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance specifically for stain removal. However, these toothpastes do not change the color of your teeth; they will only lessen the stains.
OTC Bleaching Products
You can even use over-the-counter bleaching products to whiten your teeth. Make sure you buy a product that has an ADA Seal of Acceptance and discuss your options with your dentist to be certain.
Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
There are some people whose teeth tend to become sensitive after whitening. This is because the peroxide in the bleach could penetrate the enamel and irritate the nerves in your teeth. Luckily, this sensitivity is just temporary, can will fade after a while.
However, you need to remember that too much whitening will damage your tooth enamel and even gums, so make sure you talk to your dentist beforehand.