But what happens when you have stained teeth? Well, this can greatly affect how you conduct yourself, not just through your smile, but also how you speak to others and your overall confidence. This can have a significant effect on your relationships, career, and your social life in general. Lucky for you though, there are ways to prevent the discoloration of your teeth, and if your teeth are already stained, teeth whitening is readily available.
1.What Causes Stained Teeth?
Before we get into how you can whiten your teeth, let’s take a closer look at what causes discoloration on your teeth in the first place.
1.1 Exposure to Chemicals Before Pre-Permanent Teeth Growth
A person’s permanent teeth form under the gums before they are 6 to 8 years old, and eventually break through the gums and push the baby teeth out. Sometimes, certain chemicals get mixed in with the calcium that form your teeth just as your permanent teeth are forming, right before they break through the gums. Listed here are the more common ways that this could happen.
1.1.1 Dental Fluorosis
Dental fluorosis is a condition where the teeth become discolored due to a person having been overexposed to fluoride during the first 8 years of their life, when most of their permanent teeth are being formed. It affects about 25% of all Americans, most of whom are between 12 or 15 years of age.
It usually happens when a person uses too much dental product that has a high concentration of fluoride in it. It also commonly happens with people who swallow toothpaste after brushing their teeth rather than spitting it out.
1.1.2 Tetracycline Antibiotic
Tetracycline is a common antibiotic that has been in the market for about 60 years. Itis known to cause permanent discoloration amongst children when it’s administered when their teeth are still in the process of becoming permanent.
Discoloration happens because tetracycline binds to the calcium in the teeth just as the permanent teeth are forming. Once the new, permanent teeth grow out and is exposed to ultraviolet light, it oxidizes much like how iron rusts, turning anywhere between yellow to brown.
1.2 Dietary Habits
Teeth are practically at the forefront when it comes to processing food, or anything else you put into your mouth, for that matter. If you’re not careful of what you eat or drink, sometimes these things can cause your teeth to stain.
1.2.1 Drinking Sugar-Rich Drinks, Alcohol, Coffee and Tea
Certain drinks, such as cola and certain alcohol use a lot of artificial coloring known as chromogens that give them their unique coloration. These chemicals also have the unfortunate effect of staining your teeth. Some particularly acidic drinks, such as tea and coffee also cause discoloration to your teeth by slowly breaking the enamel down, allowing stains to set in much faster.
Another thing that can cause your teeth to discolor is smoking. Cigarette smoke contains tar and nicotine, both of which causes your teeth to go yellow, and if you’ve been smoking for a really long time, they can actually turn your teeth brown. Tobacco itself, the main ingredient in cigarettes, also stain your teeth.
1.2.3 Drinking Too Much Mineral-Rich Water, or Hard Water
Sometimes, the discoloration of your teeth can be caused by the most unexpected of things. Simply drinking water can actually cause your teeth to stain, especially if the water has too many trace minerals. Although drinking water with a high mineral content is safe, overall, the increased mineral content can be abrasive for your teeth, and can slowly chip away at your enamel, causing your teeth to be more prone to discoloration.
Also, depending on which types of minerals are abundant, hard water can cause certain minerals to bind to your teeth, and would eventually oxidize, giving your teeth a yellowish hue.
1.3 Other Factors
1.3.1 Not Brushing Regularly
Brushing your teeth is very important, not just to maintain your teeth’s overall health, but also to maintain its pearly whiteness. One of the best defenses against teeth staining is to simply wash away whatever causes the discoloration, be it food, drink, or nicotine. If you forgo proper dental hygiene, you’re also prolonging the amount of time your teeth are spending with these discoloring agents.
Of course, too much of a good thing can still be pretty bad. Using a toothbrush with hard bristles can chip away at your teeth’s natural protective coating. As we’ve mentioned a few times before, this is never a good thing to your teeth’s natural whiteness. What you’d want is to use a toothbrush that’s only hard enough to remove any food or drink residue stuck on your teeth, and nothing more.
1.3.3 Some Ingredients in Medicinal Toothpaste
Because medicinal toothpaste is specifically designed for dealing with certain conditions in the mouth and the teeth, they contain certain ingredients that can be too hard on your teeth. Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and stannous fluoride, are just two examples that cause your teeth to stain. CPC kills bacteria without dislodging them, causing the dead bacteria to leave stains on the tooth.
Stannous fluoride, on the other hand, contains a compound that includes tin molecules, which reacts to your teeth and discolors it.
2.How to Whiten Your Teeth
2.1 Ultrasonic Tooth Scaling
Tooth scaling is a cleaning technique that involves using a tool to remove just the outermost layer of teeth, where there is a buildup of plaque. There are two types of tooth scaling, the normal one and the ultrasonic variant. Ultrasonic tooth scaling uses a more precise tool and technique to do its thing. Normally, this can be done in-office, but there are commercially-made tools available that will allow you to do your own scaling safely at home.
The ultrasonic scaling is a more popular technique, since it can do a much deeper cleaning and cause the least amount of discomfort. Aside from plaque, tooth scaling can remove stains, tartar and other problem spots on your teeth’s surface.
2.2 Tooth Bleaching
Another way you can whiten your teeth is by using a bleaching agent such as carbamide peroxide. This type of treatment can be done in a dental office, though there are options out there that allow you to do this at home. Some can even whiten your teeth using certain chemicals in tandem with UV light, and wouldn’t take more than a few minutes to do.
2.3 Dental Veneers or Porcelain Veneers
If the damage that has been done to your teeth is just too much, or the discoloration itself has become permanent, then sometimes, traditional techniques of teeth whitening might no longer be enough. That’s where dental veneers come in. Dental veneers, or porcelain veneers, are basically wafer-thin constructs that are clued on top of your individual teeth.
They’re basically designed to cover the front of your teeth in order to improve their appearance, whether you have a chipped tooth, uneven teeth or severe discoloration. You can even have these veneers customized based on the color, size and shape you want. One downside is that it only usually works for the front of the teeth, and not the backside, but it’s a good quick fix.
Of course, not everyone has the time to visit the dentist, so there are things you can do at home that can help you remove the stains on your teeth.
As we’ve mentioned before, brushing your teeth are one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to prevent discoloration. But we’ve also mentioned that overdoing it can cause more harm than good. So, what’s a good middle ground? Brush your teeth at least twice a day and gargle after every meal. Try not to use a hard-bristled toothbrush. Instead, go with soft bristles or medium bristles at most.
3.2 Drink in Moderation
Avoid drinking soda or drinks with too much food coloring too often. Try to avoid drinking tea and coffee as well. If you simply can’t avoid drinking any of these beverages, then make sure you brush your teeth after drinking them, or gargle with mouthwash.
3.3 Avoid Drinking Hard Water
Drinking straight from the tap can cause you a lot of problems, least of them would be getting your teeth stained. Of course, if that’s unavoidable, just make sure that the water itself is filtered properly. Also, avoid tooth care products that contain too much fluoride or make sure that your water supply doesn’t have excessive amounts of it, as overexposure to fluoride can stain your teeth.
3.4 Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
Another popular home remedy is by using baking soda in tandem with lemon juice. The acidic reaction helps clean out your teeth, but it’s very easy to overdo this. Try not to do this too often as it can be destructive to your protective enamel. Once a month is a safe bet if you want whiter teeth without overdoing it.