. . . serving VA & NC since 1985
Why Did My Teeth Change Color?
Over time, your teeth can go from white to not-so-bright for a number of reasons:
Food and Drink
Coffee, tea and red wine are some major staining culprits. What do they have in common? Intense color pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth (enamel).
Two chemicals found in tobacco create stubborn stains: Tar and nicotine. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colorless until it’s mixed with oxygen. Then, it turns into a yellowish, surface-staining substance.
Below the hard, white outer shell of your teeth (enamel) is a softer area called dentin. Over time, the outer enamel layer gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.
If you’ve been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change color because it reacts to an injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.
Tooth darkening can be a side effect of certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications. Young children who are exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline when their teeth are forming (either in the womb or as a baby) may have discoloration of their adult teeth later in life. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These bleaches break stains into smaller pieces, which makes the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter.
Does Whitening Work on All Teeth?
No, which is why it’s important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.
What is the procedure?
This procedure is called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The technician will apply a protective gel to your gums and place a cheek retractor in your mouth to keep the gel off and protect your lips and gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth, and a special blue LED light is placed closely in front of your teeth. Protective eyewear must be worn during the sessions. Sessions will be 15 minutes each totaling 45 minutes. The reason for the separated sessions is to assess the client for any discomfort, and a mini break from the cheek retractor. :) Teeth whitening sessions have to have at least 3 months in between treatments.
How much does is cost?
Single Session is $79
Double Session (for 2 people) is $129
Are There Any Side Effects from Teeth Whitening?
Some people who use teeth whiteners may experience tooth sensitivity. That happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth. In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. You can delay treatment, then try again.
Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.
What are the instructions the after care?
• Do not smoke for at least 12 hours, 24 if you can help it. There are many ingredients inside cigarettes that are able to stain the teeth – especially in the 24 hour time period after treatment.
• Eat only white foods. This is a rule of thumb since you do not want to go out and eat bright red tomatoes that might stain but rather stick to white chicken, pasta, potatoes and cauliflower.
• Do not drink coffee, tea, soda, colored juices or red wine. Any of these deeply colored drinks can stain the teeth. Water is the best to drink for the first 24 hours after whitening.
• Do not put lipstick or lip-gloss on during this time. Lipstick is a known cause for staining teeth since the color is semi-permanent.
• Do not use an at home whitening kit on your teeth for at least a month or two, and if you decide to use one after this time – be very cautious since you can weaken your teeth and may over-whiten.
• Rinse your mouth after each meal to ensure that you do not leave staining food and drinks in your mouth for too long.
• Brush and floss regularly to ensure that you remove harmful buildup that could be staining your teeth. This is also good oral hygiene and can keep your teeth whiter for a longer period of time.
• Use a straw as much as possible when drinking anything. This minimizes contact from the liquid to your teeth which can minimize staining.
• Sensitivity can happen, although uncommon for the first one to two days after the procedure. Brush your teeth until the sensitivity goes away. A mild analgesic (Orajel) or a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, such as Sensodyne, will usually be effective in eliminating any discomfort.
**If you have previous dental problems such as cracked, missing, broken teeth or cavities, sensitivity from the procedure can be intensified so it is recommended that you have these problems fixed prior to the teeth whitening process.