Dealing with Tooth Discoloration

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If your pearly whites aren’t so bright anymore, the discoloration of your teeth can be linked to an array of reasons. The three primary reasons that your teeth can become discolored are staining, childhood problems, or aging issues. Here are the details of each reason for tooth discoloration:

Extrinsic Discoloration — Your teeth’s outer enamel become stained from drinking beverages like wine, coffee or soda or eating intensely-colored foods like blueberries. Smoking is also a big cause of teeth discoloration.

Intrinsic Discoloration — When the inner structure of your tooth (called dentin) becomes exposed or darkens, it is called intrinsic discoloration. What causes this? The primary culprits are overexposure to fluoride during early childhood; trauma to your permanent or baby teeth; and/or exposure to tetracycline antibiotics while your mother was pregnant with you or as a child before age 8 years old. There is also a rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta that causes discoloration.

Age-Related Discoloration — Tooth enamel will become worn as you age, which will allow dentin’s yellow color to become exposed. Also, millions of micro-cracks accumulate in your teeth’s enamel as you age – they are caused by chewing and grinding – and the micro-cracks fill up with debris and hold stains causing a dullness in teeth over time.

What Are Your Treatment Options?

You have a wide range of choices when it comes to whitening your teeth. You can visit your dentist for professional whitening or go with an over-the-counter method to save money. Here are your options for whitening your teeth:

At Home Whitening Toothpastes: This at-home approach may remove some of your minor stains, but whitening toothpastes won’t actually whiten the overall color of your teeth.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Products: This approach is fairly inexpensive, but the products used are weaker than what you’ll find at your dentist so they aren’t as effective. You apply a whitening gel to a mouthpiece or use whitening strips in this approach. Over time, especially with the mouthpiece approach, you’ll see some lightening of your teeth. But because the mouthpiece isn’t fitted to your mouth, it won’t be as effective as a mouthpiece created by your dentist for just your mouth.

Power Bleaching: This is a procedure used by dental offices that involves using either hydrogen peroxide gel or carbamide. The bleaching agent is applied in the dental office or at home by the patient. Some dentists use a whitening light in addition to the gel while you’re in the office. This can often result in changes to your teeth discoloration in less than an hour.

Dentist Grade Whitening Trays: These use a more concentrated bleaching gel and a custom-fitted mouth guard provided by your dentist.

Composite Bonding Materials: Your dentist can use a bonding material to cover your teeth and to match color.

Veneers: These cover cosmetic imperfections and match color using thin ceramic shells applied by your dentist that cover the outer surfaces of the teeth.

If you are interested in finding out more about your options for a brighter smile, give Lehigh Valley Smile Designs a call at (610) 868-7601.

Source: Colgate, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)           

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