Obviously, we all would love to have a smile that we’re proud of and happy to show to everyone that makes us laugh, but the reality is that many people are self-conscious or concerned about the way their teeth look and it often relates to the colour. As such, many people enquire about whitening procedures. In some situations, whitening procedures produce amazing results. In other cases, it is ineffective, leaving patients and dentists disappointed. This all boils down to the reason that the teeth are discoloured in the first place and ensuring that the treatment fits the problem. Here are some of the reasons for discolouration in your teeth, and what can be done to improve it:
- Unrealistic expectations. The first thing to understand is that teeth are not naturally white, they are off white. If the porcelain in your bathroom sink is the measuring stick, then every natural tooth in the country will fall short of that expectation. If that is the desired result, it is achievable with porcelain veneers, but tooth whitening will definitely fall short of expectations.
- Over time, we can get external stains that sit on the outside of our teeth. These are most commonly the result of regular consumption of tea, coffee and wine. Luckily this is an easy one. A clean and polish from you dentist will be able to remove any external staining and brighten up the teeth.
- Natural aging. As we age, naturally our teeth darken and become more yellow. These are the best scenarios for tooth whitening with bleach and will have by far the best response. The bleach placed on the teeth whitens the enamel, reversing the clock. Your teeth will continue to darken again over time, as it will not stop the changes that come as we age, but it pushes it back. It can be repeated in the future as the colour starts to darken again.
- Thin enamel.Enamel, the protective layer on the outside of our teeth is actually translucent, which means it’s partially see-through. The dentine, which sits under the enamel and makes up a large part of our teeth is naturally a more yellow colour. The thinner the enamel is usually (through wear or erosion), the more we are able to see the colour of the underlying dentine. Tooth whitening typically only affects the enamel, and so in these situations, tooth whitening is unlikely to make a huge impact. Veneers in these situations will not only look amazing, but also replace the missing enamel and help to strengthen the teeth.
- Internal Staining. Internal staining is most commonly caused by trauma, where it is usually limited to one or a few teeth. I these cases, internal bleaching, where the bleach is actually placed within the tooth rather than on top is necessary. It requires for teeth to have had a root canal, which they often they will need anyway if trauma is involved. Less commonly, use of the antibiotic tetracycline while teeth are developing (even in utero), can cause a band of discolouration across the teeth which can be resistant to whitening measures.
- Enamel defects. Sometimes defects with in the mineral of the enamel can cause small areas of discolouration on a tooth surface, for example, hypomineralisation and fluorosis. These types isdiscolourationscan sometimes be addressed conservatively but also could indicated defects in the enamel which might benefit from a filling. Your dentist can assess the reason for these discolourations and the best course of action.
If you are unhappy with the colour of your teeth and would like to brighten them up, or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on (07) 3379 1328