As our teeth age they tend to take on more staining. A child’s mouth may not be exposed to the stainers we consume as adults and therefore do not typically suffer from discolouration. As they age out of their youth, new behaviours and lifestyles may begin to contribute to a gradual discolouration. While teeth can be polished and scaled in order to remove staining, the re-staining process starts as soon as you have your next coffee. The reality is that there are multiple factors contributing to teeth discolouration concerns in patients – some you can control, and some you cannot.
Where the colour of your teeth is concerned, we can control the amount of staining we have by controlling what we eat and drink. Although it’s unfortunate to many of us coffee lovers, drinking coffee will stain the enamel over time. And, for those of us that enjoy an evening glass of red wine, red wine will stain the enamel over time. That might sound bleak, but we do have some workarounds.
If you are a coffee drinker, consider cutting the staining power of black coffee by adding some milk or cream and wait until the coffee has come down in temperature to drink it through a straw, focusing on bypassing the front teeth. Similarly, consider switching to red wine to avoid exposing your teeth to deep red tannins.
Although these accommodations do assist in maintaining good teeth shade, they do little to protect your teeth and gums from the effects of bacteria and decay. Drinking sodas and consuming sweets significantly increases the acidity of the mouth and this acid works against the health of your enamel. When sugars are introduced to the mouth, the bacterium in the mouth begins to consume it and excrete acid. Limiting sugars will limit the acidity of the mouth and promote healthy bacteria levels which means less tartar.
When plaque builds up around the teeth and isn’t scrubbed off before it solidifies into a coral-like substance (tartar) the tartar is easily stained by food and lifestyle choices, like smoking.
If you are eating a healthy diet and taking care to brush and floss regularly, the only other item on the list is ensuring that you are attending regular dental cleaning appointments. Making sure that your teeth are cleaned this way will consistently work to keep surface stains away.
If you are already doing everything you can to maintain your tooth shade, you may decide to move forward with teeth whitening. The good news? You are likely to achieve your ideal shade more quickly when your starting point hasn’t been hampered by tartar and staining.
It is absolutely normal for tooth colour to change as we age. Even if you’re eating right and taking care of your teeth, the dentin behind the enamel naturally changes in colour over time. Pay attention to lighting when you find your teeth particularly discoloured. Make sure that your tooth shade isn’t just the result of poor lighting.
Book an appointment, of course! We encourage our patients to consider having their teeth whitened by a professional. This is because whitening is an investment, and we want your experience to reflect sufficient results. Many over-the-counter gels and strips are available but compare them in pricing to your dentist’s whitening fees and you may find that it’s even more affordable to have a professional whitening session with quality ingredients.
Although teeth whiteners are always made with an active ingredient of peroxide, the concentration determines the efficacy of the bleaching solution. That means that you could invest your hard-earned dollars in an over-the-counter product that offers disappointing results with significant discomfort.
Drug store whiteners may not be concentrated enough to bring you the shade you desire, but they are likely to dehydrate the teeth and burn the gums. This occurs because the teeth absorb peroxide through channels in the enamel. Since the appearance of our tooth shade is determined primarily by the dentin, the bleaching peroxide needs to reach it in order to offer whitening. As the peroxide acts on the dentin, the dentin becomes slightly dehydrated which puts pressure on the nerve of the tooth, causing pain. Your dentist has access to clinical strength bleaching products as well as rehydrating treatments and gum barriers to keep patients comfortable following their teeth whitening session.
If you are unable to achieve the degree of change that you are seeking with whitening treatment, you may consider speaking to your dentist about alternatives such as bonding or dental veneers.
For questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist contact our clinic today.