Why might I need Teeth Whitening?

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How staining occurs

A variety of factors can affect the colour and therefore the appearance of your teeth. Lifestyle choices such as smoking or eating foodstuffs such as: tea; coffee; chocolate; or red wine, can leave your teeth discoloured permanently. Crowns or rotten teeth can also have a different colour to the rest of the teeth, leaving an uneven appearance and a damaged tooth that is much more noticeable. A build up of dental plaque or tartar can also have a negative effect on the colour of your teeth. There are a small number of medicines which can alter the colour of your teeth, also.

How this affects you

Stained or discoloured teeth can seriously undermine a person’s sense of self-worth and confidence. Your teeth are often the first thing someone notices about you, and are very prominent when speaking or smiling. If you are not confident in the appearance of this key feature it can cause you to become reticent and unwilling to smile or communicate openly.

How to address the colour of your teeth

There are a variety of treatments which can be performed by a cosmetic dentist or in the comfort of your own home. It is important to research any cosmetic treatment carefully, and as your teeth and mouth can be a sensitive area you ought to consult your dentist before undertaking any form of treatment.

Types of staining on teeth

There are a variety of reasons why your teeth might become stained, some are to do with lifestyle choices and others might be genetic. The main types of staining are:

  • Topical or surface staining – this could be caused by smoking, drinking coffee or poor dental hygiene
  • Deep staining – this could be caused by some types of medicine or possibly even genetic
  • Staining due to rot, dental tooth fillings or cracks in teeth – damaged enamel cannot repair itself in the same way and filler is often not a uniform colour with the rest of your mouth

How tooth whitening addresses staining

Unlike some treatments which only treat the surface of the tooth, such as scale and polish or toothpaste, dental whitening can reach through several layers of enamel and can treat even deep staining. It is sometimes possible to improve the appearance of staining due to damage with tooth whitening treatments but in order to see if tooth whitening can improve the colour and appearance of your teeth you ought to consult your dentist or a specialist cosmetic dentist.

What shade are my teeth?

Many products claim that they can improve your teeth by a certain number of shades, and this can be a little confusing. There is no one universal system for categorizing the colour of teeth but the most widely used system uses these four broad colour spectrums:

  • A – reddish brown
  • B – reddish yellow
  • C – gray
  • D – reddish gray

Universal standards

Within these basic colour spectrums your teeth will fall under a numbered shade indicating how pale a shade of this colour your teeth are. This is by no means a world-wide accepted system, and many products or dentist use their own scales which are provided alongside the treatments.

Tooth whitening and improving the shade of your teeth

All tooth whitening should start with an evaluation of the shade of your teeth and a discussion of how much this can be improved – and this includes at home products, which should also come with a chart you can use to examine the colour of your own teeth.

Things to remember:

Colour expectations

The important thing to consider is that all whitening treatments are based on improving the current colour of your teeth. This improvement is usually based on altering the colour of your teeth by a number of shades, and some kits of professionals even provide a chart which you can use to chart your reasonable expectations against.

Time taken for results

You must also bear in mind that tooth whitening does not provide an immediate result, and can take between three weeks and a month for the effects to become fully apparent.

Misuse or overuse

You may be tempted to apply gels straight to your teeth, or to leave treatments on overnight or bring your professional appointments closer together in order to speed up the effects – but this is not advisable. The chemicals used are effectively bleaching your teeth, and used incorrectly can be corrosive and damaging, especially to your gums.

Achieving satisfactory results

If you make sure to keep your expectations within reason and use the treatments according to the manufacturer’s instructions you should have the best possible chance of achieving a satisfactory result.

Types of Tooth Whitening

The mildest of treatments is to cut out any food or activity that might stain your teeth. Regular trips to your dentist, as well as carefully dental hygiene, including thorough brushing, flossing and use of a mouth wash can help to prevent and reduce topical staining. Another way to begin to treat staining is occasional use of high strength de-scaling toothpaste or using a tooth paste which contains a tooth whitener. The whitening effect produced by these tooth pastes are usually caused by a very mild abrasive substance which gently buffs away topical staining. If you feel you need a stronger treatment than this then you can opt for either a home treatment kit or treatment performed by a dentist.

Does Tooth Whitening Hurt?

Guide to Teeth Whitening in London & UK