A smile is a simple gesture, but it conveys a number of messages – happiness, friendliness and honesty are all positive traits that are associated with a great smile. Teeth that are bright and white are considered to be particularly attractive, and markers to health and success.
While teeth are very white when they first come through, over time exposure to food, drink and other elements causes discoloration and even staining. This means that very few of us actually have smiles that are quite as white and young and healthy-looking as we would like.
Causes of tooth discoloration and staining
While our teeth naturally darken as we get older, there are many other different factors that can contribute to tooth discoloration. These include:
- Smoking. Nicotine is the number one biggest contributor to yellowing teeth!
- Eating/drinking products that contain tannins, such as red wine, coffee, carrots and oranges
- Heavy use of antibiotics during adolescence
- Exposure to high levels of fluoride
- Damage to the nerves or blood vessels inside the root canal
- Trauma to the tooth
- Genetics. The thickness of the outermost layer of your teeth, known as the enamel, is largely determined by your genes. If you have particularly thin or translucent enamel, the inner, darker layer of dentin may show through.
Unfortunately, extreme dissatisfaction with the color of your teeth can cause a range of problems, from avoiding smiling in photographs to refusing to eat in public or covering your mouth when you speak. Mercifully, there is a solution – professional teeth whitening.
What is professional teeth whitening?
Professional teeth whitening is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that is performed by our qualified and experienced dentist in the comfort of our modern, well-equipped offices. The treatment plan usually consists of a number of short visits, although the exact number will be determined by how white you wish your teeth to be, the color they are when you start and how well they respond to the treatment.
The procedure itself is painless and can usually be completed during a lunch break. The whitening product is pasted on to your teeth, and a special laser or light it shined on to it, inciting a chemical reaction that begins the bleaching process.
If your teeth are stained from the inside out, such as in the case of damage to the interior nerves, whitening agent may be placed inside the tooth via a small, drilled hole. This is then covered with a temporary filling.
Benefits of professional whitening
With so many different dental products on the market claiming to have whitening capabilities, it is understandable to think that you could improve the color of your smile using over-the-counter alternatives to professional whitening. After all, many still contain bleaching agents. However, experts agree that professional whitening has a number of advantages over buying and using at-home products. These benefits include:
- Better consistency. Your dentist has uncompromised access to your teeth, ensuring that the whitening agent is applied evenly.
- Stronger bleaching agent. Only your dentist has access to professional-grade whitening agents that can produce the best results in fewer treatments.
- Longevity of results. It is important to understand that whitening is not a permanent solution. Nevertheless, professional whitening is shown to have significantly longer-lasting results, particularly if you follow an oral care routine that helps to maintain them. This involves daily brushing and flossing, cutting back on foods and drinks containing tannins and, most importantly, giving up smoking!
If you are unhappy with the color of your smile, teeth whitening could be the perfect solution. Dr. Manning would be happy to assess the color of your teeth and advise whether whitening is the best course of treatment to help you achieve the aesthetic changes you are hoping for. To obtain more information about teeth whitening, or to schedule your confidential consultation with Dr. Manning, call 480-988-2373.