As a society, we associate whiter teeth as being a sign of beauty and good health, indicating the person takes good care of themselves and their smile. Whiter teeth are also a sign of youthfulness, as most children and many teenagers have naturally white teeth. Despite this, not everyone is lucky enough to have beautifully white teeth and teeth can become stained and discoloured due to a number of different factors.
What Causes Teeth Staining and Discolouration?
The reason why younger people tend to have whiter teeth than older people is due to the thickness of tooth enamel. When you are younger, your tooth enamel tends to be naturally thicker and this enamel is opacious. This helps to mask the natural colour of your teeth which is contained in the dentine directly underneath the tooth enamel. Dentine colour tends to be darker than tooth enamel. As we age, tooth enamel naturally becomes thinner due to acid erosion and simply by brushing your teeth. This exposes more of your natural tooth colour in the dentine.
Food Choices and Lifestyle Habits
If you eat plenty of darker coloured foods and love a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of red wine most days, then your teeth are more likely to become stained. This is because the colours of these foods can gradually seep into the tooth enamel. Eating a great deal of highly acidic or sugary foods can also cause acid erosion. Smoking is another cause for tooth discolouration and it can significantly damage your dental health.
Your natural tooth colour is also down to genetics, so if your parents or siblings have darker coloured teeth, then it’s highly likely that you will too.
Tetracycline can cause tooth staining if taken while teeth are still forming. This antibiotic forms a deposit within the dentine and enamel of teeth, creating a greyish or brown stain.
Root Canal Treatment
Sometimes an older root canal treatment can cause a tooth to look discoloured.
Teeth naturally have many different shades and it’s rare for a tooth to contain just a single colour. For example, teeth tend to be darker towards the neck of the tooth nearest to the gums, while the incisal or biting edge of a tooth is usually whiter or even quite translucent. Even the middle portion of a tooth may contain more than one shade. Your natural tooth shade most likely complements your skin tone and hair colour. When deciding how best to whiten your teeth, it is important to bear this in mind.
How We Can Help
In addition to providing advanced dental implants in Oxford, our practice is highly skilled in aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry. We can utilise the most up-to-date techniques and materials to create more cosmetically pleasing smiles, using treatments that provide durable and long-lasting outcomes. As with all our treatments, your health and well-being is always our priority. This means we prefer to recommend the most conservative solutions for dental problems, including discoloured teeth. Teeth whitening is often a good solution that can quickly brighten up a smile.
Teeth whitening treatments can help to restore your natural tooth colour but they are not meant to give you a Hollywood white smile. These ultra-white shades are only really achievable by covering up your natural teeth with crowns or veneers and make it clear your smile has had some help. For many people, extensive cosmetic treatment is not necessary. If your teeth are generally nicely shaped and evenly aligned then there are several easy and inexpensive solutions to help you achieve a whiter smile.
Our Tips for Achieving a Beautifully White and Healthy Smile
Become More Aware About How Teeth Stain
If you like to eat highly coloured foods, then you might not want to change your eating habits. However, there are a couple of tricks to try to minimize contact with your teeth. When you have eaten something highly coloured, rinse your mouth with water straightway afterwards. When you have something highly coloured to drink, if possible use a straw to minimise its contact with your teeth. Otherwise, rinse your mouth with plain water and try not to sip your drink over a long period of time.
Highly acidic foods and sugary foods are another cause of tooth staining, leading to acid erosion. Unfortunately, this can be worse in people who snack frequently in between meals or who prefer to have a greater number of smaller meals. When eating something sugary, acidic or carbohydrate rich, try to include it as part of your main meal, rather than as a snack. Immediately after eating rinse your mouth with plain water, but don’t brush straight away. This is because higher acidity levels in the mouth softens tooth enamel. By waiting half an hour to an hour after eating, your tooth enamel will re-harden slightly making it safer to brush your teeth without brushing away your tooth enamel.
If you smoke and are concerned about teeth staining, then this could be a good incentive to quit. Your teeth will look less stained and quitting will protect your oral health and your general health. Your GP can offer advice on how to quit or ask us for help and advice.
Schedule Regular Hygiene Appointments
Regular dental hygiene appointments are a great way to brighten up your smile while protecting your dental health. To see your hygienist, you don’t even need to see a dentist in Oxford, as you can book a hygiene appointment whenever you wish. Your hygiene appointment will include a scale and polish. Scaling removes hardened plaque or calculus which can infect your gums and a significant calculus buildup can appear yellow. Polishing your teeth removes some surface stains, helping to create a healthier and naturally sparkling smile. It is a great idea to book a hygiene appointment if it has been a while since you last had your teeth professionally cleaned, or if you would like to refresh your smile. If, once your teeth have been cleaned you then decide you’d like them to be a little whiter, we can offer you a choice of two teeth whitening treatments. Before any whitening treatment can take place, we will check the condition of your teeth and gums to make sure this procedure is suitable and safe. If you have any worries about this, our dental professionals are well equipped to deal with patients who may suffer from dental anxiety.
Teeth Whitening at Home
With this treatment, we can provide you with a custom-made whitening kit that is much more effective than anything you could buy over-the-counter. To do this our dentist in Oxford will take detailed dental impressions of your teeth which are used to fabricate your whitening trays. These whitening trays will fit comfortably yet tightly over your teeth, ensuring the whitening gel remains within the trays and cannot leak out.
We will prescribe a professional whitening gel that is suitable for use at home and will show you how to fill the trays and how to insert them. You simply need to wear the trays for a few hours each day or leave them in overnight. Within just a few days, your teeth will begin to look brighter and whiter but most people need to wear the trays for a couple of weeks to achieve the desired outcome. The nice thing about having a custom-made whitening kit is that provided your teeth remain in the same positions and are not altered in any way, you can re-use the whitening trays when you need to top up the results.
We only use the highest quality whitening products designed to gently yet effectively lift the overall colour of your teeth and treatment is very safe. Once your teeth are whitened, we can provide you with information on how to prolong the effects of this treatment and we can supply additional whitening gel for use at home.
To find out more about how we can help improve your smile, or to book a hygiene appointment, get in touch with One The Gallery on 01865 256007 or click below to book an appointment