Whitening for a Clean, Bright Smile
As our patients grow older, we start to see the signs of aging in their teeth, which often includes discoloration. These effects, combined with the things we eat and drink and the choices we make, such as smoking, create a perfect storm of staining agents that leave your smile looking less than pearly white.
Fortunately, Dr. Russell Jensen provides whitening treatments to help you avoid the embarrassment of stained teeth.
If you would like to learn more about our whitening options or make an appointment with the doctor, call our Boise, ID dental office today at (208) 853-2221.
What causes tooth stains?
The color of your teeth comes from the reflection of light off of the enamel and the yellowish layer of dentin beneath it. Patients with thin enamel may have a yellowish hue to their smile from the dentin layer showing through. People with abrasions on their teeth from excessively hard brushing may experience discoloration as well, because the light reflects differently off of damaged enamel. Most of the stains on our teeth, however, result from the things we consume.
A good rule of thumb regarding the products we consume is that anything that can stain a white shirt can also stain your enamel. But it’s it just pigments that cause stains; they are also caused by the chemical agents in many of the products we put in our bodies.
- Tobacco and Nicotine – Whether smoked or chewed, tobacco will cause stained, yellow teeth after even a brief period of use. Ingredients in tobacco include tar, which is naturally dark in color, and nicotine, which is naturally colorless but turns yellow when combined with oxygen. That’s why nicotine vaporizers can be as staining as cigarettes.
- Wine – Many people expect stains from dark red wines, which contains tannins and chromogens, as well as acids that stain teeth quickly. Surprisingly, however, white wines contribute to staining, as well. Researchers have found that teeth exposed to white wine stain more easily when followed by beverages such as tea or cola.
- Colas – Cola drinks contain acids and chromogens, and stain teeth with ease. Even light colored colas contain enough acids to contribute toward staining by other food and beverages.
- Coffee and Tea – Like red wine, these drinks both contain tannins, which promote staining. Experts say that black tea may stain worse than coffee. White, herbal, and green teas, however, do not contribute to the staining of teeth, and actually have proven beneficial to your health.
- Sauces – Sauces deep in color, such as tomato sauce and soy sauce can contribute to the staining of your teeth.
- Berries – The skins of dark colored berries, like blueberries and cranberries, can cause staining.
Medications and injuries from childhood are the most common causes of intrinsic stains, which originate inside the tooth. The two types of intrinsic stains we see the most are due to:
- Antibiotics – One antibiotic in particular, tetracycline, when taken as a child or by your mother while you were in the womb, causes intrinsic stains that can prove very difficult to remove.
- Fluorosis – When children consume too much fluoride it can lead to white stains on their adult teeth. This is one reason why it’s crucial to monitor young children with toothpaste until they are old enough to avoid swallowing.
Fighting Stains with Whitening Treatments
Patients who wish to brighten their smiles have the option of an office treatment, a take-home whitening kit, or over the counter options.
Store bought products range from whitening toothpastes to strips you attach to your teeth and gels applied with trays. The whitening options you find in your local pharmacy will remove some surface stains, but they do not have the strength of the whitening agents your dentist can provide. Additionally, some patients experience a burning sensation on their gums, since one-size-fits-all trays and strips can shift and slide around, transferring the bleaching agent to sensitive gum tissue.
Take-Home Whitening Kits
More effective than store-bought options, take-home kits provided by your dentist contain trays that are custom made to fit your teeth. These trays allow the whitening agent to stay in contact with your teeth longer than store-bought trays, providing a more effective treatment. While not as strong as the in-office treatment, the whitening agent is prescription strength and does a much better job of fighting stains than over the counter products.
The doctor will sometimes recommend take-home kits to his patients who undergo the office treatment, depending on the severity of the stains on their teeth and the level of brightness they hope to achieve from the treatment. Take-home trays are often provided for touch-up treatments between office visits.
In-Office Whitening Treatments
For treatments in the office, the dentist will typically provide a protective covering for the gums, before applying a strong whitening agent to the patient’s teeth. The whitening agent contains hydrogen peroxide, which absorbs into the enamel and releases oxygen to break up the molecules composing the chemical bond of the stains.
Most treatments will involve the use of a special light that activates the gel and speeds up the bleaching process. These treatments generally take 30 minutes to an hour, and result in teeth up to eight shades whiter.
Call Us for a Consultation
If you would like to learn more about the whitening treatments we offer, call our Boise, ID dental office at (208) 853-2221 today to make an appointment with Dr. Jensen.