Teeth Whitening

What Causes Tooth Discoloration? 2 types of staining:

Extrinsic discoloration occurs when the enamel(outer layer) is stained. This is mostly caused by:

    • Black Coffee or Tea
    • Smoking and chewing tobacco
    • Mustard or Ketchup
    • Cola or Soda
    • Soy sauce or Red sauces
    • Red Wine
    • Berry Juice

Intrinsic discoloration happens when the the inner structure of the tooth darkens and can be caused by:

    • Exposure to excessive fluorides during early childhood
    • Use of tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy causes baby’s teeth to discolor
    • Use of tetracycline and doxycycline antibiotics for children 8 years old or younger
    • Mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride
    • A fall or other dental trauma for younger children, and trauma to permanent teeth
    • Certain medical conditions, like dentinogenesis imperfect
    • Ageing or genetics

Our teeth can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down as well. The wearing down of enamel allows the inner layer called dentin (a natural yellow color) to show through. In children that are transitioning between baby teeth and adult teeth, you will notice that they are more yellow due to a larger amount of dentin. There are different forms of whitening agents with different active ingredients. The main effect is the opening of the tooth pours to reach the stain and break it down. Depending on the strength and length of contact, the teeth can become sensitive for a short period of time.

How it's done

Different forms of whitening products are available and are safe to use.

Over the counter strips can be bought from the dental department at a local retail store. An example is Crest Whitestrips. The active ingredient in Crest Whitestripis hydrogen peroxide. It can take 2 weeks to 1 month to see results and usually lasts about 2-6 months.

Bleaching trays are a step up from over the counter strips. Custom trays are made and a syringe of bleaching gel is given so that you can whiten at home. The active ingredient is usually a stronger version of hydrogen peroxide or a different form called carbamide peroxide. The gel comes in a variety of percentages to fit each patients needs such as for sensitive teeth, faster results or touch ups.

In office whitening uses the strongest percentage of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide and delivers the fastest results. On some patients you can see a difference in shade within 20 minutes of treatment. An in office whitening session lasts for about 20minutes - 1hour and can be associated with more postoperative sensitivity. Thus, in office whitening is closely monitored by a trained professional. With at home maintenance, results can last 6months - 1 year.

Some tips: before any whitening, take precaution by brushing with fluoride before and after whitening to reduce sensitivity. Avoid foods or drinks that can re-stain the teeth. Crowns and veneers do not whiten, so consider how bright you want to go.