Why do our teeth become discolored?
There are several reasons:
- If you drink a lot of coffee, red wine, black tea, or dark cola drinks, or if you eat a lot of berries, the pigments in these substances are absorbed by tooth enamel, which is partially porous. This can stain your teeth. This is not to say you should give up those foods and drinks. The staining can be removed by a tooth whitening procedure, restoring your original white enamel color.
- Aging – even if you have a low-staining diet, everyone’s teeth become darker over time.
- Overuse of fluoride.
- Old metal fillings which start to show through.
- Certain medications such as tetracycline which are given during childhood and stain the teeth as they are developing.
- Tobacco use.
From this list you can see that a whitening procedure is not the only way to correct discolored teeth. If you have old metal fillings darkening any teeth, Dr. Greenhalgh can replace them with white fillings. Tobacco also has other harmful effect in your mouth beyond discoloring your teeth and our office can assist you in a smoking cessation program. If you live in a rural area, we can assist you in getting your water tested to check for the correct concentration of fluoride.
How white could my teeth become?
When you have an effective teeth whitening procedure, you’ll be astonished at how white your teeth have become. Your teeth can actually become whiter than your natural lightest shade. You can whiten your teeth at almost any age.
How does teeth whitening work?
It works by using various peroxide gels, usually carbamide peroxide, or sometimes hydrogen peroxide, which release oxygen into the tooth structure. If your teeth can absorb the oxygen well, the dark-colored long-chain stain molecules are broken into short molecules. Teeth vary in how well they absorb the oxygen, which causes teeth whitening results to vary person-to-person. Stronger gels produce more oxygen.
Whitening happens only while the teeth are in contact with the whitening gel. That is why store-bought whitening kits are not very effective – they have generic trays which almost certainly will not fit your teeth closely and evenly.
One thing that many people are unaware of is that saliva will inactivate the bleach. Part of the preparation of our in-office treatment is to dry the teeth before applying the whitening gel. If you are using a home kit, be sure to dry your teeth before you insert each tray. The best trays will make a seal at their edge to keep bleaching gel and saliva separate.
Stains caused by food and drink are organic and respond well to the action of oxygen. Stains caused by too much fluoride or some of the antibiotics are inorganic and do not respond well to the oxygen. However, they do respond to the Deep Bleaching™ procedure we offer.
What is Deep Bleaching™?
The Deep Bleaching that we offer is a proprietary treatment developed to address stubborn stains that typically do not respond to more conventional treatments, such as Zoom2 or NiteWhite take-home kits. It takes a little over two weeks to complete.
After you and Dr. Greenhalgh have decided to go ahead with Deep Bleaching, we’ll then make custom whitening trays which are unlike any others used in tray whitening. There will be three stages to the procedure:
- A visit to condition your teeth for whitening. We will use hydrogen peroxide bleaching gel in contact with your teeth using the new trays. This helps your teeth to absorb oxygen more effectively.
- Two weeks wearing the trays at home at night with carbamide peroxide, a different bleaching gel. It will release oxygen into your teeth for several hours each night and whiten your teeth visibly and steadily. You’ll really see noticeable whitening during this stage.
- A second visit where Dr. Greenhalgh will again use hydrogen peroxide in the trays for an hour. This last step takes your whitening to the highest level.
How long will my teeth stay white?
After whitening your teeth will always be lighter than their original color. If you had a Deep Bleaching treatment, they will stay white for a lifetime as long as you follow the maintenance routine of easy at-home touch ups.
If you had a Zoom2 treatment or used a take-home kit, they could stay white for up to about two years depending on how often you eat and drink highly pigmented substances. The Zoom2 system includes a touch up kit you can use at home. We can also supply you with extra whitening gel if you used a NiteWhite or DayWhite kit.
Get answers to your teeth whitening questions during an in-person appointment with Scott Greenhalgh, DDS. Call our Lakewood office at 303-988-9060 today.