Start Flashing Those Pearly Whites: Here’s How to Conquer the Toughest Stains
According to a recent World Oral Health Day survey, more than two-thirds of Australians shy away from showing off their (not so white) pearly whites. 27 per cent cite yellow stains as the main reason behind their reluctance to smile. Here at Paramatta Dental, we think life’s too short to be smile shy. Here’s our go-to guide on different stains, home remedies and professional whitening treatments to dramatically transform your smile.
Types of Teeth Stains
When you think about discoloured, yellow-stained teeth, the usual culprits of red wine, tea and coffee probably spring to mind. However, teetotallers and even the most diligent brushers among us may still suffer from unsightly staining. The causes of discolouration are much more complex and multifaced than you might assume and can arise from various lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors. Anything from antibiotic usage, tannin-rich food and drinks (cuppa anyone?), and general wear and tear can cause tooth discolouration.
When customising the most effective whitening treatments to suit your needs, it’s important to distinguish what type of teeth staining you have—this is why we always recommend a thorough assessment by one of our friendly and experienced dentists. Trust us; we’ve seen it all when it comes to teeth stains.
· Extrinsic stains
It’s time to get into tooth anatomy 101. That hard protective layer covering your teeth that we call enamel is where we tend to see the majority of stains. These extrinsic superficial stains are caused by substances in our diet and lifestyle that can penetrate the pores of our enamel and result in brown spots or yellow stains. Unfortunately, we experience natural enamel erosion as a part of the ageing process, where the outer coating of our teeth becomes more translucent and dull our teeth’s appearance. The good news is that extrinsic staining is generally very simple to treat (although you’ll need more than just regular brushing).
· Intrinsic stains
Intrinsic stains refer to deep internal discolouration of the dentin beneath the enamel (the core calcified tissue of the tooth). Our dentin has a natural yellow hue that becomes more apparent with age and, when combined with thinning enamel, can impact the brightness of our smile. Underlying causes of internal tooth discolouration could be related to oral ill health, such as prolonged cavities, old fillings, physical trauma to the teeth that have resulted in internal bleeding, or health conditions such as chronic acid reflux (also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD). Intrinsic stains generally require more intensive treatment plans than intrinsic ones and may not be responsive to traditional whitening techniques.
Home Remedies to Remove Stains from Teeth
It’s easy to get lost in the vast selection of at-home teeth whitening products available and succumb to the exaggerated promises of marketing hype. Here’s what you need to know to separate fact from fiction when it comes to DIY whitening treatments:
· Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide
Old-fashioned baking soda is at the most basic end of home remedies for teeth whitening. Baking soda is often included in whitening products as a mild abrasive, and no doubt it does have some natural whitening properties. If you wanted to make a basic whitening paste, a combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda could be used; however, we would generally caution against this method. Prolonged exposure to hydrogen peroxide without the guidance of a professional could be toxic and, when combined with baking soda, could result in the weakening of enamel and increased sensitivity.
· Charcoal brushes and pastes
Activated charcoal may be all the buzz in supermarket whitening products, but they come with various issues. While charcoal brushes and pastes can work to minimise minor surface staining, such products have no impact on intrinsic stains. Supplemental use may serve to beautify your teeth in the short term, but we would never recommend replacing a good-quality fluoridated daily toothpaste with a charcoal-infused paste, as you could do more harm than good. Like baking soda pastes, prolonged use of charcoal products may increase sensitivity due to enamel erosion, and could also cause irritation and staining around gums and previous dental work.
· Home bleaching kits
While home bleaching kits are partially effective in removing extrinsic staining, keep in mind that over-the-counter products have significantly lower concentrations of bleaching agents than professional in-chair treatments administered by a dentist. Aside from being less effective than professional cosmetic dentistry, over-the-counter bleaching kits do not have custom-fitted trays, which can result in gum and lip irritation.
On the other hand, practitioner-dispensed prefilled whitening trays that can be used in the comfort of your home are ideal for whitening tune-ups between dentist visits and help prolong that picture-perfect smile after a professional whitening procedure. Innovative maintenance systems such as Ultradent Opalescence Go are affordable, convenient, and effective at-home treatments.
Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional in-chair teeth whitening can address almost all stain types and provide dramatic results in less time. Patients with minor extrinsic staining may not even require traditional whitening treatments and would simply benefit from a scale and deep prophylactic clean (where an abrasive paste is professionally applied to the teeth using a rotating rubber cup).
If you are looking for a dramatic smile makeover and want instantly whiter teeth, look no further than the Ultradent Opalescence™ Boost™ bleaching protocol that your dentist can medically administer. In under an hour, you will receive 2-3 applications of the 40% hydrogen peroxide gel that is chemically activated without the need for uncomfortable lights. Because the formula is precisely applied, with measures in place to protect lips and gums, irritation is minimised. In fact, the inclusion of potassium nitrate and fluoride is like a facial for your teeth, reducing sensitivity and preventing future cavities.
Even the toughest intrinsic stains can be transformed with cosmetic dentistry. In some instances, the application of artificial enamel in bonding or crowning procedures may be the best option to help restore your smile.
Here at Paramatta Dental, we are experts in teeth stains removal. If you’re ready to put your best foot forward with a whiter, brighter smile, contact your local Parramatta dentist to learn more about our state-of-the-art whitening treatments and book a consultation to develop a customised treatment plan to suit your needs.