What Can a Cosmetic Dentist Do About Tooth Stains?
No matter what kind of tooth stains you may have, a cosmetic dentist can give you a whiter smile.
Are you embarrassed by yellowed or stained teeth? You may have already tried every over-the-counter whitening product you can get your hands on with no success. But don’t give up! A cosmetic dentist can offer help with even the most severe stains and give you the bright, white smile of your dreams.
Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Stains
When you come to a cosmetic dentist for advice about improving the color of your teeth, the first thing they will do is examine your teeth to see what kind of staining you have. This is very important because it will determine what cosmetic treatments may be appropriate for your situation.
There are two types of stains that may affect your teeth, intrinsic stains and extrinsic stains. These technical terms refer to whether the stain comes from inside the tooth (intrinsic) or outside the tooth (extrinsic).
Intrinsic staining or discoloration is most often caused by trauma to the tooth. For example if the root of the tooth dies the tooth may take on a gray or black appearance. Other possible types of intrinsic staining include brown stains from fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) or stains from certain medications.
Extrinsic stains result when residue from food, drink, or tobacco build up on your tooth enamel. Over time the stain can penetrate down into the structure of the enamel itself, but it is still considered extrinsic staining because it comes from outside the tooth. Common sources of this type of staining include coffee, tea, dark soda, and smoking.
Professional Teeth Whitening
If your tooth discoloration is caused by extrinsic staining, your cosmetic dentist can help by providing professional teeth whitening treatment. This treatment utilizes an oxidation reaction to lighten both stains that are on the surface of enamel and those that have penetrated into the enamel. You’ll see a much better result from professional teeth whitening than from at-home whitening products simply because the active whitening agent is much stronger. Because the process is administered under the careful supervision of a professional, in-office teeth whitening is also safer and more comfortable than at-home whitening. For best results, you want to start with a professional dental cleaning to scrub away as much of the surface staining as possible and let more of the whitening agent act on sub-surface stains. To maintain your newly whitened teeth, you may wish to use a whitening toothpaste or rinse.
If you have very severe extrinsic staining or any kind of intrinsic staining, your cosmetic dentist can use porcelain veneers to give you a brand-new white smile. The veneers cover your stained teeth and you can choose whatever shade you like to give you the desired level of whiteness to your new smile. As a side benefit, the veneers will also cover any other cosmetic imperfections you may have such as chips, gaps, odd tooth shapes or sizes, and worn or uneven tooth edges. Veneers are permanent and must be placed by an experienced cosmetic dentist to ensure a natural look and a long service life.