Tooth enamel is an incredibly hard and durable substance, but it has its weaknesses. Among them is the propensity to stain when we eat and drink certain foods and beverages: coffee, tea, red wine, various berries, even Texas’s own Dr. Pepper! Plus, simple aging yellows our teeth. This combination can make our teeth dingy and yellow — it can get to the point where you may subconsciously avoid smiling or otherwise showing your teeth.
At Clear Lake Dental Care, we offer in-office teeth whitening to put the gleam back in your smile.
What causes teeth to become stained?
It may not appear so, but your tooth enamel is unique to you. The color varies slightly for every person. Some enamel starts a little bit darker, and some seems to stain more easily. The good part about this is that most staining occurs in the enamel, the outer layer of the tooth. These stains can be removed with whitening agents.There is another type of staining that occurs in the dentin, the inner portion of the tooth. This staining usually is the result of a drug reaction — tetracycline is the main culprit here — and it cannot be whitened. The way to cover this type of staining is with porcelain veneers, which cover the front portion of the teeth.
These are typical reasons your teeth become stained:
- Foods — Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, even dark chocolate all contain pigments that can make their way into tooth enamel.
- Drinks — Coffee, tea, red wine, darker fruit juices, and cola drinks leave stains.
- Smoking — Nicotine makes the enamel yellow.
- Genes — Darker enamel tones are usually passed on from your parents.
- Drugs — Tetracycline, a popular antibiotic used especially in the 60s, was found to make the dentin in teeth grey. There are now recommendations to not use tetracycline with children due to this problem.
- Fluorosis — If a person has too much fluoride, or if it is ingested, it can cause fluorosis, which stains the teeth a grey color.
How does teeth whitening remove stains?
The concept behind teeth whitening isn’t all that different than removing stains from laundry. Stains work their way into the enamel, which is somewhat porous. The active ingredients in whitening gels penetrate the enamel and break up the pigment in the stains. Our in-office whitening lightens your teeth anywhere from five to seven shades, depending on your degree of staining.
How is your in-office whitening done?
How is your in-office teeth whitening different than OTC products?
There are two very important differences between the teeth whitening we offer in our Clear Lake Dental office and whitening kits you can buy at the grocery store. First, we use far stronger concentration whitening gels. Professional whitening gel is stronger because trained dental hygienists are using it, so the possibility for improper application isn’t there. That’s why home whitening kits have to be far weaker, in case the gel gets on the person’s gums and lips. Second, we fit the trays we use for our in-office whitening to your teeth, and they fit precisely. Over-the-counter kits usually have one-size-fits-all trays. This means the whitening gel can be applied haphazardly.
Plus, our in-office whitening takes just an hour. At home kits require the person to wear the trays usually for one hour every day for one to two weeks. And the whitening they achieve isn’t as dramatic.