Discolored teeth have been among the major concerns of people who care about their appearances. Take-home tooth whitening gel has become quite popular among the dental professionals and patients for achieving brighter and whiter teeth in a short time.
These specially formulated teeth whitening products are safe, effective and efficient as compared to other at-home products available in the market. However, we find it necessary to educate and guide our patients regarding the causes and basic mechanism behind tooth discoloration. This knowledge will help you understand the effectiveness of teeth whitening gel and it will also make it easier to prevent the development of tooth discolorations and staining in the future.
Broadly speaking, there are two main types of tooth discolorations,
- Extrinsic discoloration occurs due to the accumulation and deposition of colored pigments or chromogens from your diet or outside environment on the external tooth surface,
- Intrinsic discoloration results from the alterations within the normal structural composition or thickness of dental hard tissues such as enamel and dentin.
Poor oral hygiene maintenance is among the most common causes of discolored teeth. Infrequent and irregular cleaning of teeth and gums through tooth brushing, mouth rinsing and use of dental floss in areas between your teeth can aggravate the frequency of staining development. Within no time after performing tooth brushing, thin dental pellicle layer develops on the surface of teeth which progresses into tenaciously adherent yellowish dental plaque. Deposition of minerals in dental plaque results in the formation of tartar deposits which are not only harmful to gum health but also impart stained appearance to your teeth.
Intake of colored foods, beverages, and drinks further deteriorates the condition. Coffee, tea, cola drinks, red wine and apple juices are among the major beverages responsible for staining of teeth. Cola drinks and soda juices decrease the PH of oral environment and facilitate leaching out of ions from the enamel of teeth and incorporation of colored pigments. Similarly, blueberries, apples, and potatoes are prone to cause discolored and stained teeth.
Tobacco smoking is another major factor which has been associated with staining of teeth. Cigarette smoking leaves carbon residues on the surfaces of teeth. These carbon particles get lodged into the irregularities within the enamel layer and tartar deposits on your teeth. Simple tooth brushing and flossing methods fail to remove smoking stains. Professional Take-home Whitening kits are required in cases when such hard resistant discolorations develop on your teeth.
Use of certain medications and dental filling materials have been associated with high occurrence of tooth discolorations,
- Tetracycline antibiotics in young pregnant mothers may cause discolored teeth in infants and newborn babies afterwards,
- Excessive use of certain mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chemical solutions,
- Chemotherapy for cancer patients,
- Radiotherapy for head and neck cancers,
- Anti-histamines, anti-psychotic drugs, and high blood pressure drugs,
- Amalgam fillings and sulfide containing materials impart grayish black color to teeth,
- Root canal treatment materials can cause internal discoloration of teeth.
High ingestion and use of fluoride containing toothpastes, varnishes, gels and foods have been associated with the development of dental fluorosis characterized by the presentation of discolored teeth. High quantity of fluorides in community water supplies, milk supplies, salts, mouth washes and tablets may lead to staining of teeth. Similarly, hidden sources of fluoride can deteriorate the condition. Fish, cola drinks, tea, processed and canned foods are among the major hidden sources of fluorides in diet.
In addition to all the above sources and causes of discoloration, an inevitable etiologic factor is advanced age. With advancing age, teeth become darker and yellowish due to continuous wear of outermost enamel layer. This leads to exposure of underneath yellow colored dentin tissues. In conclusion, keeping in mind the various causes of discolored teeth, one can prevent and delay such happenings through modifying his/her lifestyle.