Over the past two decades, teeth whitening has become one of the most popular esthetic dental treatments. It gained its popularity partly due to the fact that it is one of the fastest ways to improve one’s smile.
This page is focused on information about whitening treatment. If you are a patient at AvA Orthodontics and seeking detailed instructions on how to use your prescribed at-home whitening, please check our instruction page.
Diet: Some food or drinks such as ketchup, coffee, tea, and soda get their color from pigmented particles that can attach to your enamel and discolor your teeth over time.
Tobacco: Smoking or chewing tobacco has a significant effect on the color of the enamel because it contains two chemicals that can discolor your teeth independently.
Tar: A naturally dark material that can stick to the outer surface of your enamel and make it look dark.
Nicotine: Naturally colorless, however, when it is in contact with oxygen, its color changes to yellow.
Age: Under the thin layer of enamel, there is a thicker, dull yellow-colored dentin. Over time enamel becomes thinner and the hue of the yellow dentin becomes more prominent.
Trauma: At the center of each tooth there is a channel filled with arteries, nerves, and vessels. After a significant impact on the tooth, some of the blood vessels may become damaged and start bleeding. The blood clot and its pigmentation may turn the color of your teeth significantly darker.
Disease and Medication: Infection with some viruses during pregnancy or delivery and use of some medication during pregnancy is associated with babies’ teeth color change. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation also cause discoloration. There are many medications that are known to cause discoloration of the teeth, as well. Chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride contained mouthwashes if used for a long time will change the color of enamel to a yellow-brownish color. The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline, if used at an early age before teeth are erupted and are developing, can cause a significant grayish color discoloration. However, it has no effect on teeth after they have erupted.
The color of stains is usually due to complex protein molecules in the enamel that reflect specific light waves. Whitening materials such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide degrade these molecules to smaller sizes which in turn reduces the color of stains.
Whitening only works on the tooth’s natural enamel. It does not make veneers, crowns, or tooth-colored fillings any whiter.
Teeth with yellow‐brown or dark yellow discoloration tend to whiten better than teeth with gray or bluish‐gray color. White discolorations remain unchanged, however, the background may be lightened to make the white areas less noticeable.
Teeth normally lighten in 3 days to 6 weeks. However, the whitening of nicotine-stained teeth may take 1-3 months. Staining due to tetracycline, an antibiotic, is more difficult to bleach. It may take 2-6 months or more to see some changes. In some cases, teeth may not even respond at all. Whitened teeth tend to change color over time. A touch-up whitening every six months will help to maintain your desired shade.
Method of Treatment
There are different types of teeth whitening. Among all of these, in-office and dentist prescribed at-home whitening are the most effective methods.
Whitening Toothpaste: works through mild abrasion on the enamel, it is only effective on external stains, it does not change the overall color of your teeth
Dentist prescribed at home: has a lower concentrated active material, takes longer to produce the desired results, chance of sensitivity is higher, more expensive than home whitening
In-office: has a higher concentrated active material, takes less time to produce the desired results, chance of sensitivity is higher, more expensive than home whitening