A bright smile is perceived as a healthy smile. Over time, your teeth can go from white to not-so-bright for many reasons:
Food and Drink
Coffee, tea and red wine are notorious for staining teeth. Intense color pigments called chromogens attach to the white, outer part of your tooth, making you more vulnerable to staining from food and other substances.
Two chemicals found in tobacco create stubborn stains: Tar and nicotine. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colorless until it’s mixed with oxygen. Then, it turns into brown deposits that will soak into the tooth structure and cause intrinsic discoloration.
Over the years, teeth darken as a result of wear and tear and stain accumulation. Below the hard, white outer shell of your teeth is a softer area called dentin. Over time, the outer shell of your teeth may get thinner and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.
If you’ve been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change color because dead nerve with no blood supply causes a reaction to an injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.
Tooth darkening can be a side effect of certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications. Tetracycline usage during tooth formation produces dark grey stains which are very difficult to remove. Excessive consumption of fluoride causes fluorosis and associated areas of white mottling. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.
Teeth whitening is a simple one session process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These bleaches remain on the teeth for several 15 to 20-minute intervals that add up to an hour at most and break stains into smaller pieces.
Professional whitening performed by our office is considered to be the most effective and safest method; done properly, tooth whitening can last as long as five years. Over-the-counter whitening systems are somewhat effective as long as the directions are followed closely.