What Causes Tooth Discolouration, How To Prevent It And How Teeth Whitening Can Help

Dr. Ash Sagar
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Did you know that one of the leading causes of having yellow teeth is lifestyle choices? Smoking, drinking coffee and red wine, and eating dark-coloured foods can leave stains on your teeth. Fortunately, there’s an option to have a beautiful, youth-looking smile again. Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental treatment today. It whitens discoloured teeth to make your smile brighter and more appealing.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what leads to tooth discolouration and how you can prevent it from happening. We’ll also discuss some treatments available to lighten the shade of your yellowish or stained teeth. So read on to find out what you need to know about keeping your pearly whites shining!

What Is Professional Teeth Whitening?

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Tooth discolouration can be a result of the foods, drinks, or even lifestyle habits that you have. It makes your teeth look yellowish, dull, and unattractive, which can be a concern and affect one’s confidence. Hence, most people opt for cosmetic dentistry services such as teeth whitening treatment to improve their smile.

Professional teeth whitening is a popular method of lightening the shade of the teeth. Generally, it involves applying a whitening solution, typically hydrogen peroxide, to reduce stubborn stains and brighten the current shade of the teeth. The dentist will apply the active ingredients and leave for about a couple of minutes. Depending on the product, they may use a specific type of blue light to activate the gel whitening solution and help break it apart faster.

Professional teeth whitening treatment is done by a dental professional in their office, and they are trained to use a significant concentration of hydrogen peroxide to address discolouration and deliver optimum results in a short amount of time. It can be an excellent alternative for people who are dissatisfied with over-the-counter whitening products or don’t want the hassle of using teeth whitening kits at home.

What Does A Discoloured Tooth Mean?

Tooth discolouration can happen when the natural colour of your teeth changes. It means they no longer look as bright or as white as before; you may start to notice that your teeth appear to be yellowish or greyish which makes them look dull and unappealing. In some cases, tooth discolouration can also have some white streaks, yellow, grey, or dark spots on them. Generally, the appearance may depend on what causes these stains on the teeth.

Types Of Teeth Stains

Intrinsic Tooth Discolouration

Intrinsic discolouration occurs within the tooth. Several factors can leave side effects triggering the dentin to darken or have a yellow tint. This type of tooth stain can be more challenging to remove as they are deep-rooted in the tooth’s structure.

Extrinsic Tooth Discolouration

Extrinsic stains can happen when the enamel or the outer layer of the tooth is stained because of lifestyle and diet choices. Consuming dark-pigmented foods and beverages are the common reason. Extrinsic discolouration only affects the outside of the tooth. In non-severe cases, regular brushing with whitening toothpaste can address such a problem. However, some stains are tough, and toothbrushing is not enough to whiten the teeth.

Age-Related Teeth

StainsThe outer layer of the teeth wears away and exposes the dentin, which can be naturally yellow. As a result, the translucency of your tooth reduces, making it look yellow or darker.

What Causes Your Tooth To Discolour?

There are many things that can cause tooth discolouration, which may include the following:

Lifestyle Factors And Diet Choices
  • Food And Drink. Soft drinks, tea, red wine, berries, curry, and tomatoes contain dark pigments and tannic acid, that frequent intake can make the teeth appear yellowish over time.
  • Smoking And Using Tobacco Products. They have tar and nicotine, which creates stubborn stains on teeth.
Dental Health
  • Tooth Decay And Cavities. These dental problems can damage the tooth surface. If left unaddressed, the affected tooth can die, and when the blood supply stops, the tooth will begin to darken.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene. If you neglect to brush and floss your teeth regularly, the food debris will stay and accumulates plaque buildup leaving a yellowish appearance on your teeth.
  • Mouth Injuries. When you get hit in the mouth, your tooth may change colour as a sign of inadequate blood flow.
Health Condition
  • Disease. Some medical conditions may affect the tooth enamel, resulting in changes in the colour of the teeth. Such conditions may include calcium deficiency, metabolic disease, eating disorders, liver disease, and celiac disease.
  • Certain Medication. Antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications may cause side effects of tooth darkening. Pregnant mothers and young children exposed to antibiotics such as tetracycline and doxycycline may have discolouration later. In addition, people who undergo chemotherapy and head and neck radiation are at high risk of tooth discolouration.
Other Risk Factors
  • Old Dental Restoration. Some amalgam restorations can give your teeth a grey-black colour over time.
  • Excessive Fluoride. While exposure to fluoride is seen to strengthen the teeth and protect them from cavities, too much usage can lead to dental fluorosis; a condition of teeth discolouration that commonly leaves opaque white marks, lines, and poor mineralisation.

How Can I Keep My Teeth From Discolouring?

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  • Take Care Of Your Teeth After A Meal. It’s essential to brush your teeth after eating or drinking anything that has dark pigmented food to avoid staining them. If you don’t have time for a complete dental cleaning, a drink or swish with water can help remove at least some particles from between your teeth.
  • Good Dental Hygiene Habits. Professionals highly suggest practising proper care of your teeth. Every day, brush and floss your teeth. You can ask your dentist about the recommendation of any products to maintain having a brighter smile. Importantly, visit your dentist regularly to have your teeth professionally cleaned and for dental checkups. Remember, having good dental hygiene means excellent oral health.
  • Change Your Habits. You can discuss your options with your dentist to help you quit smoking or using tobacco. You may also want to limit your consumption of foods and drinks that can stain your teeth. If it seems impossible, maintain your oral hygiene to reduce the stains.

What Are Teeth Whitening Treatments Available?

Discoloured teeth can be a huge factor in a person’s appearance and can be concerning. Hence, knowing the options available to whiten your teeth is essential. There are many options, including:

Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening treatments are performed by dental professionals. Two common options are:

  • In-Office Teeth Whitening. An in-office (also known as in-chair) teeth whitening treatment is done in the dental office and by a dental professional. The dentist will use a greater yet controlled concentration of hydrogen peroxide to target the stains and whiten the teeth. They may also use blue light or heat to cure the active ingredients and make efficient results. This procedure can change the shade colour of your teeth within an hour, and the whitening effect may last longer than other techniques.
  • At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits. Your dentist will create custom-fit trays that you can use on your own, and this can be a good option if you prefer to whiten your teeth at home but with a guidance of a professional. However, the whitening solution used in this treatment is much lower than in the in-office procedure for safety reasons. The kit has whitening gel that you need to apply to each tray and wear for a couple of minutes, depending on the prescribed. You can expect results within several weeks.
Other At-Home Alternatives And Over-The-Counter Products
  • Whitening Strips. You can purchase OTC whitening strips for your teeth at the market. They work by applying a smaller amount of whitening solution than professional whitening treatments. You may apply the strips to your teeth one to two times a day or for a set period of time as indicated by the manufacturer. We recommend reading and following the instructions on the label to avoid irritation.
  • Whitening Toothpaste. There is a wide variety of whitening toothpaste available on the market today. Unlike carbamide peroxide-based products, these products target the tooth surface with substances such as abrasives and chemical blue covarine. It may take some time before the whiteness is evident in one’s pearly whites.
  • Natural Remedies. If you prefer a more concentrated technique to whiten your teeth, there are other home-based methods such as using baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and charcoal. However, using activated charcoal to whiten teeth is not scientifically proven and should only be attempted with guidance from your dentist. This treatment has a risk of damage to your dental health if done incorrectly, so make sure you discuss these methods before trying them out.

Are There Other Risk Factors With Teeth Whitening Treatments?

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Teeth whitening procedures are considered safe, but you may experience some common side effects from the treatment:

Teeth Sensitivity
Your teeth may become more sensitive following a teeth whitening treatment. You might experience this on your first or second session, and it should subside with time. Your dentist can give you remedies or a prescription for pain relievers to help you manage the discomfort and sensitivity.

Gum Irritation
Your gums may also experience irritation after a teeth whitening procedure. This may occur when the whitening product comes into contact with your gums. This side effect should be gone after a few days. Yet, if it persists, we recommend you to call your dentist right away.

If you’re using at-home whitening kits, it’s crucial not to overuse them as they may damage your tooth enamel or gum tissue. Make sure to follow directions from your dentist. In addition, it’s essential to note that teeth whitening treatments may only be suited for people with healthy natural teeth and may not be recommended if you have existing tooth decay, thin enamel, or gum disease. Please consult with our dentist to determine which technique is best for you.

Can Dental Restorations Such As Crowns Or Veneers Be Whitened?

Common materials used in dental restorations are composite resin, ceramic, and porcelain, which do not respond to active ingredients used in whitening treatments. Teeth whitening procedures only target to lift tough stains on natural teeth.

Unfortunately, this means crowns and veneers cannot be whitened and will remain the same shade as they were when attached to the teeth.

Final Thoughts

Tooth discolouration is a common issue that can happen to anyone for various reasons. In most cases, smoking and diet choices are common culprits for having yellowish teeth. There are different types of discolourations, including extrinsic stains and intrinsic stains. Regardless of the type, a dental professional can recommend the best course of action to lighten the shade colour of the teeth.

You can prevent discoloured teeth by cutting back on dark-pigmented foods and drinks and changing your lifestyle. For instance, drinking water after coffee intake can help to lessen stains.

At Narre Warren Dental Care, we offer teeth whitening procedures performed by our experienced dentists. We use advanced techniques to provide amazing results and a white smile to every patient. If you’re considering teeth whitening, You should always contact a dentist with any questions or concerns. There are many options available, so it is essential for you to find the one that’s right for your needs. Contact our office today at 03 8771 4137.

Disclaimer – Use At Your Own Risk:- The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. Any action you take upon the information on these blogs is strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of the information from these blogs.

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