Tooth whitening is a very popular cosmetic dentistry treatment that involves bleaching your teeth to remove stains and general discolouration. It is a safe and highly effective way to lighten the natural colour of your teeth without having to remove the enamel surface. If you are conscious of having stained or yellow teeth, a professional teeth whitening treatment can give you a confident new smile.
This article on teeth whitening is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Causes of tooth discolouration
Your teeth can turn yellow for a number of reasons. For many, it is a natural symptom of ageing. Over the years, stains creep into the enamel where toothpaste can’t reach, so while you may always brush and look after your teeth they will naturally look duller over time.
Certain foods and drinks are more likely to stain your teeth than others. The worst culprits are carbonated drinks, red wine, tea, coffee, and berries, which all contain chromogenic (or colour-producing) agents. Smoking or chewing tobacco will also turn your teeth yellow, brown, and eventually black.
It’s important to be careful which medications you give to young children – antibiotics which contain tetracycline cause yellow-brown and even blue-grey stains on still-forming enamel. Children who swallow a lot of toothpaste can also suffer from fluorosis which can be seen as white patches, or lines on the teeth.
Stains on the teeth can be divided into two categories: extrinsic (external) and intrinsic (internal). External stains are usually yellow or brown and can be treated with simple tooth whitening solutions. Internal stains are more grey or blue and require intensive teeth whitening treatment.
Tooth whitening treatments
There are various tooth whitening systems available, from home whitening kits to professional treatments using dental lasers. When selecting which treatment is right for you, consider these factors: