The ultimate teeth whitening guide

Human teeth are an endlessly interesting topic. Simple questions like why they are white and why that colour can change have surprisingly complex answers.

Why do teeth look yellow or dark?

Human teeth are made up of two substances that are important for the colour of your teeth: the white,hard outer layer of enamel and the yellowish dentin beneath it. There are two main reasons, then, that teeth can appear darker. One is the thickness of the enamel. The thinner the enamel, the yellower the teeth will appear as the yellow dentin layer will shine through. The other is staining. There is either some substance covering or adhering to the enamel (extrinsic stains) or the interior dentin of the tooth has become discoloured for some reason (intrinsic stains), causing the outside of the tooth to appear to be a darker colour.

Some common causes of a change in the colour of teeth are:

· Foods or beverages such as coffee, tea, red wine, and even carrots or blueberries can cause extrinsic stains.
· Smoking or chewing tobacco cause extrinsic stains.
· Some medications and treatments such as tetracycline antibiotics while the teeth were forming,or some forms of chemotherapy can darken teeth internally.
· Trauma to the teeth can darken the dentin internally which will show through your enamel.
· As you age, your enamel can become thinner due to wear or acid erosion and show more of theyellowish dentin below.

How do you remove stains from teeth?
Luckily, there is a range of different options for people trying to whiten their teeth.

  •  A professional cleaning by a hygienist can remove extrinsic stains from coffee, tea, and smoking.
  • There are quite a few natural teeth whitening tricks floating around the internet. These can be risky as some of them, such as brushing your teeth improperly with baking soda, can actually harm you’re the tooth.
  • Dentists offer a variety of professional at-home remedies or in-office bleaching services. The emphasis on supervision is critical as the dentist will diagnose the condition of the teeth, the cause of tooth discoloration, determine which treatment option and would be the most effective method for your specific case, and treat any adverse effects should they occur.
  • Recently, companies have been coming out with at-home remedies, which typically consist of a bleach gel you apply to your teeth for a certain time to help eliminate stains. Unfortunately, they do not come with the added safety of having your dentist monitor for side effects. They often have a “one size fits all” tray which can leak out the product or a strip which might have limited contact to the teeth for effectiveness. 

Dr. Caroline Krivuzoff-Sanderson, DMD offers many cosmetic dentistry options to the Red Deer community through her dental clinic. Our team can provide a supervised, at-home whitening tray program customized for your specific needs or an in-office whitening using Opalescence Boost, or Zoom! a light-activated bleaching gel. If you want to be more confident about your smile, contact us today about being your dentist in Red Deer.