Whether the goal is to maintain a glittering set of pearly whites or to get a brighter smile, stains can be extremely annoying to deal with. It feels like they come out of nowhere and are a pain to get rid of. The tiny spaces between teeth are an even bigger headache. However, once people identify the causes of their discoloration, there is an assortment of solutions.
How Did My Teeth Get Stained?
Sometimes, the problem is as simple as a build-up plaque. Even when thoroughly brushed, the tiny crevices between teeth can still hide plaque and other bits of food. Flossing is a great way to address this problem, but it may not be enough when the tooth itself is stained.
Teeth get stained for a variety of reasons, the most common culprits being the different foods and beverages people enjoy every day. Because the surface of the tooth — enamel — is porous, the colors from foods can penetrate and stain. Some familiar offenders are:
- Foods: Tomato sauce, beets and colorful berries
- Beverages: Black coffee, tea, wine and sodas with dyes
Knowing the causes can help those looking to brighten their smiles proceed with caution. If your favorite foods have already left their mark, there are remedies for dental stain removal that can save the day.
Ways to Safely Whiten Teeth
There are natural remedies for everything, including teeth whitening. Many of these are quick, easy and cost-effective ways to slightly brighten a smile. Dentists and dental organizations have recognized these natural lightening methods as safe, and the ingredients can be found at any local grocery store.
Oil pulling is one method that can be incorporated into a brushing routine. Rinsing the mouth with oil can also kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. Although any food-safe oil can be used, popular ones include coconut, sunflower and sesame oil. It is recommended to spend 15-20 minutes moving the oils throughout the mouth, then thoroughly rinsing after.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Solutions
Using toothpaste with ingredients like baking soda or peroxide can also help lift stains. Alternatively, ingredients like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can be purchased on their own. Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient in most over-the-counter whitening products. It is important to be careful when using products with hydrogen peroxide at home, as they can cause or increase tooth sensitivity. It is critical to use each product as directed and to not ingest them, as the ingredients are toxic.
For the most effective and longest-lasting results, it is best to visit a dentist’s office. Qualified dental professionals are able to administer professional-grade products safely. Maintenance is also much more manageable with regular visits to the dentist. Today, dentists are able to offer their patients hassle-free solutions that can be applied in the office or at home.
Professional Whitening Options
Some procedures must be done by a trained professional and require in-office service. However, new methods are continually being developed to make procedures easier for patients.
Guided Light Optic technology (GLO) is an example of an office-home hybrid solution that begins by gradually whitening teeth five shades over five sessions. From there, patients complete the rest of the program from the comfort of their homes, using the equipment provided.
Today, many dentists also offer whitening programs that can be completed entirely from home. Patients are given refrigerated gels that are applied with trays specially designed to keep fluids out — such as saliva — allowing the product to penetrate every tooth. This particular system is excellent for people with sensitive teeth as it is milder and has only a fraction of the whitening agent many other systems have. An additional benefit is being able to use whiteners as part of a daytime or nighttime routine.
Other Reasons Teeth Can Lose Their Luster
Smoking tobacco products and taking certain antibiotics can contribute to yellowing or discoloration. Fractures and cracks on the surface of the teeth can also cause them to discolor, especially in the area of impact.
It is not uncommon for discoloration to come from the deterioration of enamel, exposing the dentin — the bony, calcified tissues that make up the inner layer of the tooth. Dentin is naturally yellow in appearance. Because the protective layer of enamel has been stripped away, people with exposed dentin may also experience heightened sensitivity or pain. When feeling dental pain or discomfort, it is important to visit a dental professional.
When To Consider Restorative Dental Work
Procedures such as veneers and dental sealants can be great solutions, depending on the patient’s needs. These procedures offer ways to improve the appearance of a person’s smile, improve tooth function and alleviate pain, as well as prolong results of dental work.
More and more Americans are seeking teeth whitening solutions, among many other elective dental services. According to data collected by the Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), 37 million Americans used teeth whiteners in 2020. Additionally, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) found that people see personal and professional improvements after receiving dental work.
It Is Never a Bad Idea To See the Dentist
Every whitening solution requires upkeep. It is important to have good dental hygiene and regularly scheduled cleanings; otherwise, the results will not last. However, it must be noted that surface stains are not the only cause of dental discoloration. Dental bleaching products should be reserved for natural teeth, as they are not effective on tooth-colored restorations. Dental restorations can be performed and maintained by a qualified dental professional.
Regardless of your goal, it is always a great idea to visit a dentist who can help you meet your individual needs. Angela Bateson, DDS, provides top-of-the-line service to her patients. She is a Complete Health Dentist who prioritizes the comfort and care of all of her patients. You can learn more about the services she and her amazing team provide by visiting her website. To schedule an appointment, call 419-863-2636 or book an appointment online.