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Teeth Whitening

February 19, 2014

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a common procedure in general dentistry.  It involves bleaching your teeth in order to make them lighter. Teeth whitening can’t make your teeth brilliant white, but it can lighten the existing color by several shades.

Causes of tooth discoloration

When trying to determine where tooth discoloration comes from, take into consideration there are two types of tooth stains: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are known as surface stains. These are caused when outside elements affect the surface of the tooth. Intrinsic stains result when the interior sections of the tooth have darkened.

Extrinsic Staining

Food and Drink - Coffee, tea, soda and red wine can cause tooth stains when consumed over a long period of time. Berries, curries and soy sauce are just a few of the foods that stain teeth. Foods and drinks of extreme temperatures can also affect tooth color - the heat and cold open and close the pores in your teeth, allowing staining agents to attack them with greater force. Smoking - Smoking can greatly discolor teeth. But chewing tobacco isn't much safer -- any tobacco product will have devastating effects on teeth. Oral Hygiene - Generally speaking, bad oral habits will negatively affect your teeth's health. Discoloration is just a minor side effect of inefficient dental care.

Intrinsic Staining

Drugs - Antibiotics such as tetracycline can cause discoloration in children whose teeth are still forming. Other drugs, including antihistamines, antipsychotic and antihypertensive medications may also cause staining. Some mouthwashes may also leave behind teeth discoloration. Dental Fluorosis - Fluoride is incredibly important in preventing tooth decay. But too much fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis, a condition that causes white spots or lines on the teeth. Dental fluorosis only affects children whose permanent teeth are still forming beneath the gum line. But don't start limiting fluoride quite yet -- see a dentist to determine how much fluoride your child should be consuming. Trauma - Chipped teeth or broken teeth can darken due to enamel damage or a dead nerve. This teeth discoloration is also possible if a tooth is not capped following major dental surgery, such as a root canal. If you have a single dark tooth, see a dentist to fix any underlying dental problems. Dental Fillings - Tooth decay is often evident in brown or black spots on teeth. On that note, a large amalgam tooth filling can also cause outlying enamel to appear gray. Genetics and Aging - This falls under both categories. Some people are just born with tooth discoloration, and unfortunately most people's teeth will not age gracefully. Everyday wear and tear will contribute to tooth discoloration over time.

Types Of Teeth Whitening

There are various ways to whiten your teeth, but the two most common are in-office treatment and the do-it-yourself approach, with over the counter products.


Professional in-office teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in the world today. Unlike home-use whitening systems that incorporate low-dose bleaching agents, in-office whitening (also known as power bleaching, power whitening, professional whitening or chairside whitening) takes place under carefully monitored conditions which allow for the safe, controlled, pain-free use of a relatively high concentration of bleaching gel – yielding results that are visible immediately.


You can whiten your teeth at home. While it will not work in the same way as a professional whitening service, they can help whiten your teeth and they won't cost you a fortune. Just remember to talk to your dentist before you try any at-home remedies to make sure they won't damage your teeth. Some of the home remedies for teeth whitening are:
  • Teeth whitening strips - you can buy them at any pharmacy, but make sure that they do not contain chlorine dioxide, which can actually damage your enamel.
  • Use whitening gel - also available at pharmacies, just brush the gel onto your teeth with a small brush, just as you normally would - for at least two minutes. Then, spit out the remaining gel and rinse out your mouth until the gel is gone.
  • Use hydrogen peroxide -  Buy a 3% solution, which is safe for oral use. Use a mixture of the hydrogen peroxide and water as a mouthwash. Use it daily before you brush your teeth to whiten your teeth naturally. Make sure to mix it in a 50/50 solution with water.
  • Baking soda - Wet your toothbrush and dip it in baking soda. Brush for two minutes and rinse your mouth.

Is teeth whitening permanent?

No, teeth whitening isn’t permanent. It can last from a few months to up to three years, but this varies from person to person. Generally, the whitening effect won’t last as long if you smoke or drink red wine, tea or coffee, which can all stain your teeth.