Have you ever looked in the mirror in the morning and noticed that your teeth aren’t as pearly white as you would like them to be? We’ve all been there (yes, even us tooth professionals), and understand the discomfort and self-consciousness that it can cause. That’s why we offer professional tooth whitening services here at our office in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Tooth whitening is safe, easy, and effective. In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons why teeth can get stained even if we have good oral hygiene (unfair, but unfortunately true), as well as how professional whitening works to remove those stains.
Why Do Teeth Get Yellow Over Time?
There are many reasons why teeth can yellow, including:
Smoking – This is one of the most dramatic teeth-staining culprits out there! Not only is it unhealthy for your lungs and other organs, but the chemicals in cigarettes can build up on your teeth, leaving yellow and brown spots and residues behind. These chemicals can also contribute to oral diseases like periodontitis and even mouth cancers. If you smoke, we strongly recommend quitting as soon as possible, and if you don’t smoke, don’t start! For helpful resources on quitting smoking, see these articles from the CDC (link: cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking, the American Lung Association (link: lung.org/quit-smoking/i-want-to-quit), and the American Heart Association (Link: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking-tobacco/help-i-want-to-quit-smoking)
Some Drinks – There’s no question that coffee gets America out of bed in the morning, but it also takes its toll on America’s teeth. While it doesn’t appear to do any lasting damage, coffee will stain them yellow or brown, especially if you drink lots of it. Tea is also a strong culprit in tooth stains, as is soda, red and white wine, and sports drinks that have artificial flavors in them. Try to drink these in moderation to reduce the likelihood of them staining your teeth.
Certain Foods – Unfortunately, eating – which is what our teeth were designed to do – can also cause stains and blemishes on our pearly whites! Some foods are much more likely to stain than others, including acidic ones like tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Some spices, particularly those used in curries, and many berries also contain pigments that can cling to your tooth enamel long after you’ve finished eating your meal.
Wear and Tear – Over time, the white enamel layer that protects our teeth starts to wear down, exposing the yellowish dentin underneath. You can mitigate a lot of this by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, staying away from sugary drinks and foods as much as possible, and brushing gently rather than too aggressively.
Tooth Trauma – Whether it’s caused by an accident or a chronic issue like nighttime tooth grinding (bruxism), trauma to your teeth can crack the enamel, making it easier for stains to adhere and stay there. These issues can usually be mitigated with the help of a dentist, and your mouth and teeth can often be returned to a healthy state once the trauma is addressed.
Genetics – If you have a parent who has naturally yellower teeth, then you’re more likely to have the same issue. The good news is, even though genetics isn’t something we have control over, professional tooth whitening can still help!
There are other issues that can cause tooth yellowing, but those are the most common ones. We recommend coming in to see us if you would like to have your teeth whitened. When professionally done, tooth whitening is safe and effective, and it gives us a chance to quickly check your mouth to make sure that there are no underlying problems.
So how does tooth whitening work?
At its core, tooth whitening is a very simple process. All tooth whiteners contain peroxides (such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.) These peroxides contain oxygen molecules that are volatile and apt to react with other substances that they come in contact with. When applied to your teeth, the oxygen breaks apart the chemical bonds that are “gluing” the stains to your enamel. They then come off easily, leaving your teeth whiter than they were before.
Professional teeth whiteners usually also contain a small amount of fluoride, which helps keep the enamel strong and unaffected by the peroxides as they strip away stains. Most do-it-yourself whiteners contain the same ingredients as professional whitening agents, but in much smaller amounts, making them less effective overall. On the other end of the spectrum are DIY whiteners that contain so much peroxide that they can actually harm your teeth themselves. That’s why we recommend visiting our clinic here in Cheyenne to get your teeth whitened professionally. Our whitening agents are effective, safe, and long-lasting. If you have questions or would like to make an appointment, please give us a call at 307-635-8091.