Do you feel uncomfortable posing for photos?
Does worrying about the colour of your teeth make you feel self-conscious about your smile?
Well worry no more – the Hollywood smile of your dreams is closer than you might think!
What is tooth discolouration?
Perhaps you’ve tried all the whitening toothpastes you can find, but still don’t have the brighter smile you’re looking for? The first step to a whiter smile is gaining an understanding of what may be causing any discolouration you can see, and there are a number of possible reasons for this:
• Drinking lots of coffee, wine and cola can darken the external surface of the tooth, the enamel. Smoking will also have the same effect.
• Chips and tooth damage can lead to discolouration, especially when the tooth pulp has been damaged. Root canal treatment can remove this pulp before it has a chance to decay and darken; although teeth that have undergone root canal treatment may also become less white.
• Internal changes to the tooth structure, or dentin, can happen as a result of:
- Over-exposure to fluoride during childhood. Once the enamel is formed (generally by the age of 8), fluoride will not discolour teeth.
- Tetracycline antibiotics prescribed to you before the age of 8, or given to your mother during the later stages of pregnancy
- Tooth trauma during childhood
- A rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta which causes grey, amber or purple discolourations
• Tartar. When plaque builds up on the teeth, over time it hardens into tartar – a brownish substance often found at the gum line. Because tartar is porous, it absorbs stains from hot drinks and nicotine more easily, exaggerating the discolouration.
• Age-related factors. Dentin naturally yellows over time and as the surface enamel thins with age, it begins to show through
• Coeliac disease. The tooth enamel of sufferers is often poorly developed and brown, yellow or white spots may be visible on the teeth.
How can I prevent tooth discolouration?
Some people are naturally predisposed towards darker teeth, but there are small changes you can make to your routine that will help prevent your teeth darkening excessively:
• Brushing your teeth after every meal will help to prevent some stains.
• We recommend that you rinse your mouth with water after having wine, coffee or other drinks or foods that can stain your teeth.
• Regular visits to a dental hygienist will help to remove surface stains and keep most tartar deposits at bay with a periodic scale and polish.
What are my treatment options?
Our dentists at DentalCareXtra can diagnose tooth discolouration with a quick examination, and some types can be removed with professional cleaning, for example those stains caused by coffee. Good home care is always recommended to help minimise discolouration, such as brushing, flossing and rinsing after meals. Whitening toothpastes may remove minor surface stains but they will not change the overall colour of your teeth.
We can advise on a safe and effective tooth whitening treatment to suit you, so that before long you’ll be smiling confidently at every opportunity! There are two main options for improving the colour of your teeth:
• Whitening with a bleaching gel
Your dentist will apply a light-activated bleaching gel that will make the teeth significantly whiter in just 30 – 45 minutes. Follow-up treatments may be needed, or take-home bleaching trays may be recommended, depending on your individual requirements. At-home treatments are also available, but the bleaching gels used are not as strong and thus the process takes longer (two to four weeks on average). Over-the-counter products are weaker still, but they will lighten your teeth over time.
• Fitting a crown or veneer where the discolouration is more severe, after root canal treatment for example. Your tooth is covered with a colour-matched composite bonding material to form a crown, or another option is veneers, thin ceramic shells that cover the outer surfaces of the teeth.
Contact us and talk to one of our dentists today to find out more about teeth whitening, and reclaim your smile!