Why Whiten Your Teeth

Most of us start out with sparkling white teeth with porcelain-like enamel surface. Tooth enamel is composed of microscopic crystalline rods designed to protect the teeth from the effects of chewing, trauma and acid attack. Over years of use, enamel then becomes worn down, becoming more transparent and permitting the yellow color of dentin, that is the toothís core material, to show through.

During routine chewing, dentin remains intact while micro-cracks occur in the enamel. These cracks gradually fill up with stains and debris. As a result, the teeth eventually develop a dull, lackluster appearance.

Teeth bleaching removes the stains and debris, leaving the enamel cracks open and exposed. Some of the cracks are quickly re-mineralized by saliva, while others are filled up again with organic debris.

What Causes Tooth Staining?

Age: Over the years, teeth darken due to wear and tear and stain accumulation. In general, younger aged individuals will likely experience immediate, dramatic results from teeth-bleaching. For individuals their twenties, the teeth may begin to show a yellow cast, teeth-bleaching may require a little more effort. By around forties, yellow teeth may start turning to a brownish tone and more maintenance may be called for. By the fifties, the teeth have absorbed a host of stubborn stains which can often be difficult to remove.

Starting color: Each individaul has an inborn tooth color that ranges from yellow-brownish to greenish-grey, and intensifies over time. Yellow-brown is generally more responsive to teeth-bleaching than green-grey.

Translucency and thiness: Most teeth has some translucency in them. Teeth that are opaque and thick normally have an advantage: they appear lighter in color, show more sparkle and are responsive to tooth-bleaching. For teeth that are thinner and more transparent, there is less of the pigment required for tooth-bleaching. According to cosmetic dentists, transparency is the only condition that cannot be corrected by any form of teeth bleaching.

Eating habits: The habitual consumption of coffee, tea, wine, cola, carrots, oranges and other deeply-colored beverages and foods causes staining over the years. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits and vinegar can also contribute to teeth enamel erosion. As a result, teeth surface becomes more transparent and more yellow-colored dentin shows through.

Smoking habits: Nicotine leaves brownish deposits which slowly soak into the tooth structure and cause intrinsic discoloration.

Drugs / chemicals: Tetracycline usage during tooth formation produces dark grey or brown ribbon stains which are very difficult to remove. Excessive consumption of fluoride causes fluorosis and associated areas of white mottling. .

Grinding: Teth grinding due to gnashing, bruxing, stress or other reasons can add to micro-cracking in the teeth and can cause the biting edges to darken.

Trauma: Falls and other injuries can produce sizable cracks in the teeth, which collect large amounts of stains and debris.

Tooth Discoloration: The Two Types of Tooth Stains

There are two categories of teeth staining as it relates to the teeth: extrinsic staining and intrinsic staining.

Extrinsic stains appear on the surface of teeth due to exposure to dark-colored beverages, foods and tobacco, and routine wear and tear. Superficial extrinsic stains are minor and can be removed with brushing and prophylactic dental cleaning. Stubborn extrinsic stains can be removed with more involved efforts, like teeth bleaching. Persistent extrinsic stains can penetrate into the dentin and become ingrained if they are not dealt with early.

Intrinsic stains form on the interior of teeth. Intrinsic stains result from trauma, aging, exposure to minerals/drugs/chemicals during tooth formation and/or excessive ingestion of fluoride. In the past, it was thought that intrinsic stains were too resistant to be corrected by tooth bleaching. Today, cosmetic dentistry experts believe that even deep-set intrinsic stains can be removed with supervised take-home teeth bleaching that is maintained over a matter of months or even a year. For such cases, it would be best to check with your teeth bleaching dentist.