Your teeth are composed of two layers: enamel, which is white in color, and dentin, which is yellow. Over time, these layers can become discolored or dull. Your dentist can lighten the stains that have built up on your teeth by applying a whitening product to your teeth.
The best way to whiten your smile is by avoiding staining foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, wine, colas and tobacco products. These stains cause discoloration of your teeth’s outer layer, known as enamel, which can make your smile appear less bright and beautiful.
Age and diet are also factors that can lead to teeth stains or discoloration. As you get older, your tooth enamel becomes thinner and exposes more of the dentin underneath.
Drugs, such as tetracycline and antibiotics can also contribute to teeth staining. Other causes of discoloration can include smoking, genetics and medications that you take for other health problems.
Fortunately, teeth whitening is an effective and affordable treatment that can lighten the color of your smile. A whitening expert can use an in-office or take-home bleaching system to brighten your smile and eliminate stains.
In-office whitening typically takes one hour to complete and provides lasting results. Your dental team uses trays that are custom-made to fit your mouth, and a special bleaching solution is applied. Your dental hygienist or doctor will position a specialized bright light over your teeth during the treatment to activate the whitening agent.
Professional whitening from your dentist will brighten the entire surface of your teeth. Your teeth will be five to eight shades lighter after a single appointment, and your smile will look more vibrant.
You can keep your brighter, whiter smile looking its best with a regular schedule of professional dental cleanings and check-ups to ensure that your teeth are healthy. Proper dental hygiene can prevent further tooth discoloration, as well.
The best time to whiten your teeth is after you have had a dental checkup and cleaning by your hygienist or dentist, and you are confident that your teeth are free of plaque. Plaque forms on your teeth when you consume food or drink that contains bacteria. Over time, this plaque hardens to form tartar, which can’t be removed by brushing alone.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits may be sufficient for occasional touch-ups, but it is important to follow the instructions provided by your hygienist or cosmetic dentist to ensure the whitening gel remains on your teeth. Some patients experience teeth sensitivity after whitening, and it can last for a few weeks.
Laser whitening is the most advanced teeth whitening method, and it can remove up to 8 shades of stain in an hour. It can also reduce the risk of sensitivity and gum irritation that can occur with other teeth whitening methods.
If you have sensitive teeth, laser whitening is not the right option for you. Your hygienist or dentist can recommend a more gentle and effective teeth whitening system, such as the Sapphire Professional Whitening System at Advanced Dental Arts in Greenwich Village.