Why Do Teeth Become Discolored?
Tooth discoloration is common and can be caused by a number of lifestyle behaviors. In many cases, teeth discoloration can be a simple cosmetic issue. However, in some cases, it can be an indicator of poor dental health.
Here are some of the top reasons for teeth discoloration:
1. Stains From Foods and Drinks
If something has an intense color, it’s very likely to stain your teeth. This is due to a color pigment called chromogen, which has the ability to attach itself to enamel (the white outer part of your teeth).
Some of the most common culprits for staining include coffee, tea, red wine, berries, and beets. Drinking through a straw or rinsing immediately after eating can help to minimize discoloration.
2. Smoking Habits
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your dental health. It can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and overall inflammation.
Smoking isn’t only bad for the appearance of your teeth. Tar and nicotine — the main components of cigarettes — are dark and staining, with a high potential to lead to stained teeth.
The outermost layer of the teeth (the enamel) is naturally white. Right below it is the middle layer called dentin. Dentin is light yellow in color.
With age, enamel can wear off and expose more of the dentin. This, in turn, can lead to teeth that have a yellower tone.
4. Certain Medications
Tooth discoloration is a side effect of certain medications, including some antihistamines, antipsychotics, and blood pressure medications. Chemotherapy is also known to darken teeth.
Young children who are exposed to antibiotics (such as tetracycline, doxycycline, and amoxicillin) when their teeth are forming are more likely to have discolored teeth as adults.
5. Physical Trauma
If you hit your mouth hard (such as during a contact sport or an accident), then blood flow may be reduced to one or more of your teeth. This can lead to the teeth becoming darker. In some cases, lack of blood flow can even cause the teeth to die.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work for Discolored Teeth?
While there are many options for teeth whitening, they’re all based on the same process.
A whitening product, which contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, is applied to the surface of the teeth. These are bleaches that break up stains on the surface of the teeth, making them less concentrated.
Keep in mind that teeth whitening doesn’t work on all types of teeth discoloration. While surface-level stains can be removed with whitening products, they are less likely to work on discolored teeth caused by certain medications or physical trauma.
What Are the Different Teeth Whitening Options?
There are several professional and at-home options for whitening your teeth. Here are the most popular options to consider:
1. In-Office Procedure
Also known as chairside bleaching, this in-office procedure is performed by a dentist. They will apply a gel to protect your gums from the bleach. They will then apply a bleaching solution to the teeth and remove it after a certain period of time.
Usually, one procedure is all that’s needed to see dramatic results, which is why many people prefer to see a dentist for professional teeth whitening.
2. Professional At-Home Whitening Kit
If you’re more comfortable whitening your teeth at home, then your dentist can provide you with a professional whitening kit. This comes with a custom-made tray designed for your teeth, which you will have to fill with the bleaching solution and wear for a certain amount of time. It usually takes a few days to see results with this option.
3. Over-the-Counter Whitening Kit
If you want something more affordable than a professional treatment, then over-the-counter whitening kits may be an effective solution. Typically, these kits include strips or gels that you apply to the teeth for a certain amount of time.
Because the concentrations of bleach are typically lower in over-the-counter kits, the results may not be as dramatic. For best results, ask your dentist for their top product recommendations.
4. Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening toothpaste will provide the least dramatic results. It can remove some surface stains thanks to mild abrasive ingredients that scrub the teeth.
Whitening toothpaste is best for those who frequently consume staining foods and drinks. It’s most effective when used regularly.
What Are the Side Effects of Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is a fairly mild procedure that isn’t associated with serious side effects.
The most common reaction to teeth whitening is temporary tooth sensitivity, which may be felt when consuming foods or beverages that are particularly hot or cold. However, the sensitivity should go away several days after the treatment.
Although not as common, teeth whitening may also cause gum irritation. However, this can be prevented by covering the gums during the procedure — which is commonly done during an in-office treatment.
It’s important to keep in mind that professional teeth whitening should be done — at most — once per year. Because they’re not as intense, at-home teeth whitening may be repeated once every four months.
If teeth whitening is done frequently, then the risk of serious side effects — such as permanent damage to tooth enamel — goes up significantly. Whichever teeth whitening procedure you choose, make sure to always follow your dentist’s directions for using them.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
The cost of teeth whitening depends on the procedure being done. For in-office teeth whitening procedures, the cost may vary according to geographic region and the dentist’s skill.
Professional teeth whitening is the most expensive option, with an average cost of $650, but the price can range from $500 to $1,000. Some dentists may offer first-time clients a discount, which may lower the price a bit.
A professional take-home whitening kit typically costs less than an in-office treatment, ranging between $350 and $500.
On the lower end of the spectrum are over-the-counter teeth whitening products. The cheapest products can cost as little as $20 and provide multiple applications. The more expensive products can go up to $100.
While over-the-counter products are certainly less expensive than professional treatments, they may not provide impressive results and may need to be repeated often for effective teeth whitening.
Keep in mind that teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure. For best results, professional treatments should be repeated every few months, while at-home treatments may need to be done every day. However, by following a healthy oral hygiene routine, you may reduce the need for frequent treatments.
Inexpensive Teeth Whitening in Albuquerque, New Mexico
When it comes to teeth whitening, there are several options that can give you a brighter smile. You can see your dentist for an in-office treatment, use a professional at-home whitening kit, or buy an over-the-counter product.
While over-the-counter products are inexpensive, they don’t provide the dramatic results that can instantly improve your smile. Fortunately, professional teeth whitening doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive.
Flossy can connect you with a low-cost dentist in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area, so you whiten your teeth — without breaking the bank. Schedule your consultation today to finally get the smile of your dreams
The Impact of Smoking on Oral Health and Patient Assessment of Tobacco Cessation Support From Turkish Dentists | PMC
Adverse Effects of Chemotherapy on the Teeth and Surrounding Tissues of Children With Cancer: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis | NCBI
Amoxicillin Use During Early Childhood and Fluorosis of Later Developing Tooth Zones | PMC
A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening | PMC