Have you looked into the mirror after brushing and notice that your teeth are far from white? They appear yellow, and so you tried brushing them again. But, nothing has changed.
You started growing self-conscious and avoided showing your smile to anyone. The good thing is that your “yellow” teeth are not permanent. You can restore or lighten the shade of your teeth with teeth whitening.
But before we dwell into the solution, let’s dig into the problem — discolored teeth.
What is tooth discoloration?
It is expected that at one point in our lives, our teeth can be discolored due to stains on the tooth surface or changes in the tooth. Tooth discoloration can be extrinsic, intrinsic, or age-related.
- Extrinsic stains are found on the tooth surface and often occur when pigmented residue from food or drinks build up in the protein film which covers the enamel. Aside from food and beverages, tobacco use also contributes to extrinsic stains.
- Intrinsic stains are found underneath the tooth surface and are acquired when stain-causing particles get into the exterior of the tooth and accumulate inside the enamel, causing the dentin to darken or gets a yellow tint.
Some causes of intrinsic stains are excessive use of fluoride during childhood, use of tetracycline antibiotics when young, trauma, among others.
- Age-related stains are a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic stains. As we age, the enamel gets thinner, resulting in the exposure of the core tissues of the teeth which naturally turns yellow over time. This intrinsic discoloration, along with extrinsic stains due to food consumption, tobacco use, etc., leads to discolored teeth among adults.
How can I whiten my discolored teeth?
You can restore the “whiteness” of your teeth through teeth whitening which lightens the teeth from their current shade.
You can utilize whitening toothpaste or rinses, whitening strips, whitening gels, tray bleaching, and in-office whitening.
- Available in supermarkets, whitening toothpaste can help reduce discoloration especially if it’s due to extrinsic stains. Whitening toothpaste has carbamide peroxide or hydrogen which are bleaching agents. The abrasives in this toothpaste are devised to remove tooth stains on the enamel.
- Whitening rinse contains similar bleaching agents as that of whitening toothpaste and is used similarly to ordinary rinses.
- Made from thin, flexible, and hydrogen peroxide-infused polyethylene, the most common plastic, teeth whitening strips are lightly pressed onto the teeth for contact and worn two times a day for 30 minutes.
- Teeth whitening gels also have hydrogen peroxide. The gel is regularly applied to the teeth two times daily for two weeks.
- If over-the-counter measures don’t work, patients can opt for tray bleaching which is a professional whitening kit offered by a dentist. Compared to over-the-counter whitening products, this process is expected to work faster and effectively. Tray bleaching works by applying peroxide-based gel on customized trays. The teeth whitening procedure is activated through the creation of hydroxyl radicals as a result of the breakdown of the peroxide agent.
- In-office whitening is considered the quickest way to whiten teeth. The in-office whitening treatment utilizes a dental lamp to accelerate peroxide breakdown. Completed in a dental office, very concentrated peroxide is used in this treatment.