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Tooth Stains

It’s plastered everywhere. Every TV commercial break has at least one advertisement for some product to “correct” it. Every toothpaste nowadays claims it can reverse it. In America, it has become a national cosmetic concern. Stained teeth. And more importantly, tooth whitening.
Everywhere you look there are products for tooth whitening. Every celebrity’s smile is of national concern when it doesn’t sparkle enough. More teeth whitening products are sold nationwide than any other cosmetic product. Our county is becoming obsessed with white teeth.
But not many understand how tooth staining happens, how it can be prevented and how it can be controlled without having to buy expensive whitening products.

Staining Tooth Enamel

Although the enamel of your teeth is the hardest substance in the human body, it is not flat and smooth. On the contrary, your tooth enamel contains microscopic pits and ridges that can hold particles of food and drink. It’s similar to how the wood of your deck holds the staining pigments of paint or sealer. So what substances can stain enamel?
Consider this, if it can stain your dishes, it can stain your teeth.

drinks such as tea or coffee cause tooth stains.
Constantly sipping drinks such as tea or coffee cause tooth staining.

Food: There is quite the list of foods that can causing staining, including:

  • Intensely colored fruits such as blueberries, acai berries, blackberries, pomegranates
  • Rich colored sauces such as soy sauce and tomato sauce, dark chocolates
  • Dyed hard candies.

Drinks: Almost everything you drink can cause staining but here are the most notorious examples:

  • Coffee, tea (yes even white and green teas)
  • Colas
  • Dyed sports drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Red wine

Habits: Oh, so many habits can result in yellow teeth and a dingy smile:

  • Chewing extremely colorful gum
  • Chewing dyed or colored pencils
  • Tobacco use–chewing or smoking

Other things that can cause tooth stains are:

  • Medication such as tetracycline or antihistamines
  • Radiation or chemotherapy treatments

Prolonged exposure to these substances will cause the enamel of your teeth to yellow and become dull in appearance. The ideal solution to this would be to eliminate the habits and intake of food and drinks that would cause staining. Obviously, that’s not a realistic solution. Therefore it is important to be aware of the habits you indulge in, and the foods and drinks you enjoy.

How To Avoid Tooth Staining

Moderation is key for every lifestyle. It is true for a healthy diet, for taking health supplements, for exercise, in alcoholic beverages and other “guilty” pleasures. Moderation is the key for an overall healthy life. Every doctor will tell you the same time. And it is true with oral health. The one habit that you should absolutely quit for your health is tobacco use. Smoking or chewing tobacco can cause so many more complications to your overall health, yellow teeth may become the least of your concerns.

by brushing regularly and as often as you can, you can avoid build up of staining substances.
By brushing regularly and as often as you can, you can avoid build up of staining substances.

Another way to avoid tooth stains is to practice good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly will help eliminate surface stains, staining substances and, of course, plaque. Plaque can build-up and trap staining pigments against the tooth enamel. By brushing after every meal/snack you can remove the majority of the substances that stain teeth, as well as avoid cavities from the build-up of plaque and bacteria. Of course, it is not always convenient or possible to brush after every meal or snack. So making sure to brush in the morning and in the evening is imperative. Flossing is a huge help to avoiding stains as well. If you take a close look at a tooth with stains, the stains are darker and more obvious around the sides. That’s because the sides of the teeth are where plaque and other particles tries to hide first. Despite all the renovations and new toothbrush bristle technologies of your toothbrush, they still can’t reach completely between the teeth. Floss, however, can. By flossing at least twice a day, you are removing all the debris, bacteria and staining pigments you’ve “picked up” over the last few hours. Removing all of this stuff regularly through proper brushing and flossing habits will reduce the likelihood of your teeth becoming stained.
One of the most popular ways to reduce the appearance of stains, or to remove them altogether, is to whiten your teeth.

Popular Whitening Treatments

Whitening treatments are extremely popular in today’s American culture. There are so many kinds of treatments it can become overwhelming. When considering a whitening treatment for the reduction or outright removal of tooth stains, it is important to consider the active ingredient of the treatment, the amount of time the treatment can take, and the application of the treatment. It is also a good idea to be aware of your own oral health history, so you can make informed decisions on the best treatment options.

At Affiliated Dentists we offer 4 different but effective methods to whiten your smile (the most common and popular treatments):

  • Philip’s Zoom! Whitening In-Office Treatment
  • Philip’s Zoom! Nite White Home Kit
  • Sheer White Whitening Strips
  • Crest 3D Whitestrips

Philip’s Zoom! Whitening In-Office Treatment is one of the best ways to get the dazzling white smile often flaunted by the Hollywood elite. The treatment, if given the appropriate amount of time, can get your teeth up to 8 shades whiter. The main active ingredient of the Zoom! Whitening In-Office treatment is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a trusted whitening agent because as it breaks down, oxygen enters into the enamel and dentin and bleaches out the stains all while leaving the structure of your tooth unaltered.
Philip’s Zoom! Nite White At-Home Treatment is a set of trays that are made in office and then taken home to use at your convenience. Bleach is sold through the office in 3 different solution percentages–10%, 16% and 22%. Once you are in the comfort of your own home, you dot a small amount of the bleach gel into each tray (for the top teeth and the bottom teeth), secure them to your teeth and go about your regular routines. The trays should be worn at least 45 minutes, but no longer than an hour. The active ingredient for the Nite White gel is carbamide peroxide, similar to hydrogen peroxide but not as concentrated and requires more time to break down.
Sheer Whitestrips is a newer product exclusive to Henry Schein, a medical and dental supply company. Sheer Whitestrips are made of a thin plastic film with a 20% carbamide peroxide gel. These strips are meant to be worn for at least an hour.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Supreme is part of the Crest brand 3D series, a very popular product since 2010. Like other Whitestrips, these Professional Supreme strips consist of a thin plastic film with a hydrogen peroxide gel. The product offered by Affiliated Dentists is the newer Advanced Seal strip which can only be bought at your dental office. The hydrogen peroxide solution in this gel has a higher penetration rate and works to guard the teeth from future stains.

What are the side effects of Tooth Whitening?

Though whitening is a fairly reasonable and safe way to remove or reduce the staining on your teeth, it is important to understand that there is a possibility of side effects. The main side effect is typically sensitivity. The hydrogen peroxide solution penetrates into the tooth enamel, and for people with thin enamel, or lots of cavities, this can cause sensitivity. If you already suffer from sensitivity, talk to your dentist before starting any kind of whitening treatment, as they may have recommendations for which treatment would be best for your teeth. Another possible side effect is spotting. Sometimes using the whitening strips or gels can make your teeth look like there are white spots on your teeth. This is usually temporary and caused by a concentration of the peroxide solution in one small area. If this happens to you, do not panic. Do not stop the treatment. Continue the treatment and allow the whitening agent to do its full job. If, after you’ve completed the full treatment, and the spots are not just still present, but look worse, contact your dentist. They may be able to correct the problem, if you act swiftly.
Remember that proper and regular oral hygiene routines and check-ups are your best bet at reducing your risk for tooth stains. If you are concerned about staining, talk with your hygienist and dentist about what options are best for you.
For further information about whitening treatments and what Affiliated Dentists can offer you, visit our whitening treatment page, or request an appointment here.

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