Why the Color of Your Teeth Matters

For your teeth to be considered healthy and attractive, they should be white. Discolored or stained teeth hurt your overall appearance by distorting your smile. Dr. Dana Samet provides South Bay teeth whitening procedure to enhance the smile of her patients.

Type of tooth stains/discolorations

There are varying causes of teeth discoloration. Your dentist must carefully assess your discoloration to determine the severity of damage and understand the required degree of bleaching. The different types of teeth discoloration include:

  1.     Extrinsic stains

Extrinsic stains are caused by:

  •         Accumulation of chromogenic food and drinks on the external tooth surface
  •         Poor oral hygiene
  •         Tobacco use

These stains usually occur in the pellicle. Maillard’s reaction between sugars and amino acids is what generates the stain. Extrinsic stains tend to darken and become more persistent with time.

  1.     Intrinsic stains

Intrinsic stains develop from deeper internal stains or enamel defects. Factors that cause intrinsic discolorations include:

  •         Aging: This is the most common cause of intrinsic teeth discoloration. As you age, underlying dentin darkens due to the formation of secondary dentin. In combination with the thinning of the overlying enamel, your teeth become intrinsically discolored.
  •         Genetics
  •         Chromogenic food and drinks
  •         Smoking
  •         Excessive fluoride ingestion: This factor causes metabolic ameloblasts alteration leading to improper teeth calcification.
  •         Dental caries

The process of teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is ideal for discolored yellow teeth. The process usually involves the use of bleaching agents such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Bleaching agents whiten teeth by penetrating the porous outer teeth layer and breaking apart the stain compounds through oxidation.

During your teeth whitening session, your dentist will use a plastic guide called a lip retractor to move your lips and provide easy access to your teeth.

Your dentist will then apply a gingival barrier that is usually in the form of a gel and further use high-powered light to harden it. This barrier helps protect your gums from the effects of bleaching chemicals.

Afterward, your dentist will begin whitening your teeth by applying 15-30% hydrogen peroxide gel to the front teeth.  Additional high-powered light may be applied to speed up the whitening process.

A single whitening session involves multiple gel applications. Your dentist will, therefore, rinse and reapply the gel to achieve maximum results.

Following the procedure, you might experience tooth and gum sensitivity that should go away in a few days.

The results of teeth whitening can be long lasting but usually depend on lifestyle habits. To maintain results, your doctor may recommend that you regularly use a home whitening kit.

Effects of the bleaching process

  1. Effects on soft tissues

In-office teeth whitening using powerful bleaching agents like 30–35% hydrogen peroxide can cause soft-tissue burns. Limited time and quantity exposure cause lesser tissue burns. The burns are usually reversible. Rehydration and application of an antiseptic ointment can help restore tissue color. To prevent tissue burns, your dentist should use a rubber dam to prevent the bleaching agent from getting to your soft tissue. Home bleaching effects on soft tissue include irritation.

  1. Effects of dental bleaching on tooth structure

Studies have shown that teeth bleaching can cause morphological alteration in the teeth. Depending on the bleaching agent used, teeth bleaching can cause:

  •         Changes in tooth morphology: This can present as increased porosity, the formation of shallow depressions, erosion of the enamel, and decreased microhardness of the dentin.
  •         Changes in tooth chemical composition: Concentrated bleaching agents can cause loss of calcium from the enamel surface.

Restore your smile by contacting Dana Samet, DDS, to schedule a teeth whitening session today.

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