A bright, white smile can boost your confidence and create a lasting impression.
Teeth whitening has become an increasingly popular cosmetic dental procedure, but is it right for everyone? There are several aspects to consider when determining if teeth whitening is the right choice for you. Allow our Woodland Hills dentist to walk you through your options.
The Cause of Tooth Discoloration
The first step in determining if teeth whitening is right for you is understanding the cause of your tooth discoloration. There are a few primary types of tooth stains: extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related.
Extrinsic tooth discoloration happens when the tooth’s outer layer, the enamel, becomes stained due to lifestyle and dietary factors. Extrinsic teeth stains appear on the tooth’s exterior, leading to a yellowish discoloration that can be caused by factors such as:
- Consuming staining foods and beverages (e.g., coffee, tea, red wine)
- Tobacco use
- Poor oral hygiene
Teeth whitening procedures are generally very effective at treating extrinsic stains.
Intrinsic tooth discoloration occurs when the tooth’s interior, referred to as dentin, becomes darker or exhibits a yellow, brown, gray, or orange color on the teeth and may also include white or brown spots. Intrinsic teeth stains are considerably more challenging to eliminate since they are embedded within the tooth’s structure and may be caused by factors such as:
- Dental trauma or injury
- Exposure to medications during tooth development, for instance, tetracycline
- Tooth decay
- Dental Fluorosis (excessive fluoride ingestion)
Teeth whitening treatments may not be as effective for intrinsic stains, and alternative cosmetic procedures, such as veneers or dental bonding, may be more suitable.
Age-related teeth stains
Our teeth can become more susceptible to staining and discoloration as we age. Age-related teeth staining is influenced by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Understanding the causes of age-related teeth staining can help you take steps to maintain a brighter smile as you grow older.
Enamel Wear and Dentin Exposure
Dentin is naturally yellowish in color and contributes to the appearance of age-related tooth discoloration. Over time, the enamel, the tooth’s outer protective layer, starts wearing down due to daily activities like chewing, grinding, and exposure to acidic foods and beverages. As the enamel thins, the underlying dentin becomes more visible.
Long-term Extrinsic Staining
Years of consuming stain-causing foods and drinks, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-colored fruits, can accumulate extrinsic stains on the tooth enamel. Similarly, long-term tobacco use can cause significant tooth discoloration. These lifestyle factors can result in stubborn stains that become more apparent as we age.
Age-Related Dental Issues
Some dental problems become more common with age, such as tooth decay, dental trauma, or root canal treatments, which can cause intrinsic staining. Additionally, older fillings and dental restorations may discolor or darken over time, contributing to an overall aged appearance of the teeth.
Types of Teeth Whitening Treatments
Several teeth whitening treatments are available, and choosing the right one for you depends on factors such as the severity of discoloration, budget, and personal preferences.
At-Home Whitening Treatments
Over-the-counter whitening products, such as whitening strips, toothpaste, and gel trays, offer a convenient and affordable option for mild to moderate discoloration. However, they may not provide the same results as professional treatments.
In-Office Whitening Treatments
At Personalee, we offer professional in-office whitening treatments, such as laser whitening or custom bleaching trays, that provide faster and more dramatic results. These treatments are generally more expensive but can be a worthwhile investment for those seeking significant improvement in their smile.
Tooth and Gum Sensitivity
Teeth whitening treatments can cause temporary tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. If you already experience sensitivity or have a history of gum issues, you should consult our dentists before undergoing a tooth whitening procedure. They may recommend a milder treatment or provide additional guidance to minimize discomfort.
Whitening treatments can exacerbate problems such as tooth decay or gum disease, leading to further complications. Your dentists can advise you on the best course of action to ensure your teeth are healthy before proceeding with a whitening treatment.
It’s important to have realistic expectations when considering teeth whitening treatments.
While these procedures can significantly improve the appearance of your smile, they may not achieve a perfect, Hollywood-style brightness. Discuss your desired outcome with our dentist, who can help set appropriate expectations and recommend the best treatment for your specific needs.
Determining if teeth whitening is right for you involves considering the cause of your tooth discoloration, the type of treatment you prefer, your dental health, and your expectations. By evaluating these factors and discussing your options with our dental professionals by setting an appointment today, we can help you decide whether teeth whitening is the best choice for enhancing your smile.