The following is based on the interview with Dr. Ferrera:
1. Leading Causes of Teeth Discoloration
Teeth naturally get darker with age. Moreover, anything that stains clothing can also discolor our teeth. Over time, these agents infiltrate the enamel, staining beneath to the dentin. Younger teeth are naturally brighter due to their reflective nature of the dentin, which diminishes with age as the canal and pulp chamber of the tooth shrink.
2. Understanding Surface vs Internal Discoloration
Teeth discoloration can be on the surface or deep within. The enamel, which has pores, can allow staining agents to penetrate deeper into the tooth over time. Since the enamel is translucent, it showcases the shade beneath it. If the underlying dentin gets darker, so does the enamel.
3. Role of Fluoride in Teeth Discoloration
Fluoride, typically found in drinking water, has both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it strengthens teeth, making them more decay-resistant. However, excessive fluoride, especially during the formative years of teeth (under eight), can lead to discoloration, sometimes even turning teeth black.
4. Importance of Fluoride Treatments at Dental Offices
Regular dentist-administered fluoride treatments yield smoother teeth, which are easier to clean and maintain. Today’s fluoride treatments, involving varnishes that remain on the teeth for up to six hours, are far more effective than older methods. These treatments benefit kids and adults, especially as adult diets and oral hygiene habits vary.
5. Prescription Medications and Teeth Stains
Certain prescription medications, like tetracycline, can lead to teeth staining. Especially in children under eight, tetracycline can result in black-striped teeth.
6. Professional vs. Store-Bought Whitening Solutions
In-office whitening treatments typically use carbamide peroxide in high concentrations. This method is swift and effective when combined with light exposure, but lasting results require follow-up treatments. Store-bought products might not offer the same immediate and effective results.
7. Duration and Longevity of Whitening Treatments
The whitening effects generally last about two years. Over time, individuals might need touch-ups or repeat treatments to maintain the brightness.
8. Risks and Precautions with Whitening Treatments
While the main risk is temporary cold sensitivity, research has shown that whitening can slow down tooth decay. Individuals with braces should wait until their treatment is finished before getting teeth whitening.
9. Setting Whitening Expectations
It’s essential to understand that the degree of teeth whitening varies among individuals. While some may achieve porcelain-white teeth, others might experience only a few shades of improvement. Teeth with gray shades might take longer to whiten. In contrast, yellow or brown-tinted teeth often show significant improvement within two weeks.
In conclusion, teeth discoloration is a natural process influenced by various factors. Modern dental practices offer efficient solutions, but setting realistic expectations and consulting professionals before undertaking whitening procedures is essential.