How to fight stains and make your teeth whiter?
To work out how to remove stains from the teeth, we must first determine whether they come from the inside or the outer surface of the tooth.
Intrinsic tooth staining comes from the inside surface of the tooth called the dentine, which sits underneath the enamel. Over time, dentine can become darker/more yellow in colour. Dentine can also be stained by medications such as tetracycline.
Extrinsic tooth stains sit on the external surface of the tooth, the enamel. Generally speaking, food and drinks that are dark in colour can stain the enamel of the teeth.
Extrinsic stains on the teeth can be removed by seeing your dentist or hygienist every 6 months for a scale and clean appointment. A scale and clean involves removing plaque, calculus and stains from the teeth. After this process, if you are still unhappy with the colour of your teeth and would like them to be whiter, teeth whitening may be an option. Refer to our blog post ‘ISO-Snacking… what will stain your teeth during these times of increased snacking!’ to see which foods and drinks can be offenders when it comes to extrinsic tooth stains.
Intrinsic stains are a little more difficult to remove. They cannot be removed via mechanical cleaning; and require a chemical intervention. Teeth whitening can whiten teeth that are stained intrinsically. Teeth whitening can be performed in a couple of different ways:
- In-chair whitening:
- This involves a 60 - 90 minute appointment where a tooth whitening solution is applied to your teeth in a very careful manner to ensure that none of the solution comes in to contact with the gums. Your gums will be covered and protected by an adhesive gel that covers the gums and is removed once the whitening is complete. This procedure should only be provided by a qualified dental professional.
- Take-home whitening:
- This form of whitening involves a similar whitening solution that is involved in the in-chair whitening however, the active ingredient (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) it is in a much lower concentration. You will be supplied with specially formed trays to place the whitening solution into. You then wear the trays once per day for approximately 7 days (this duration may differ slightly dependant on the solution type and brand). This form of tooth whitening is a more gradual process than the in-chair whitening.
Before commencing any form of tooth whitening we recommend you speak to one of our dental professionals to determine if it would be a suitable option for you.
Written by Emily Johnson – Oral Health Therapist