We all like the look of clean, sparkling white teeth. But, realistically, the brightest and whitest teeth may not be achievable for everyone. Before you begin a tooth whitening regimen or undergo a laser whitening treatment, such as Zoom Whitening, it’s important to temper your whitening expectations so that you that the outcome is aligned with a reasonable whitening potential based on your current oral health, existing dental work and/or habits.
Why Do Teeth Become Stained?
There are many reasons why teeth become stained. In many instances, staining occurs over a period of time as teeth are exposed to various substances that can cause discoloration. However, trauma or exposure to certain medications, minerals or chemical compounds can also cause temporary or permanent tooth stains. Typical teeth stains can result from:
- Foods such as berries, chocolate or tomato sauce
- Beverages such as cola, tea, coffee or wine
- Tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco
- Extreme fluoride use at an early age
- Use of specific pharmaceuticals such as tetracycline
- Injury or impact to the teeth
- Age, as enamel erodes over time your teeth can take on a yellowish, stained appearance
Long-Term Teeth Whitening Outlook
Unless you’ve got permanent stains, if you are looking to whiten your teeth and keep them pearly white for a period of time you’ll need to change your habits. If you consume any of the aforementioned staining foods, beverages or tobacco products on a regular basis, any teeth whitening efforts will eventually be dominated by new stains. If you are aware that your habits may need to change, such as quitting smoking or starting to drink coffee from a straw, you can enter into the tooth whitening process with more realistic expectations of the long-term results.
Who is Not a Good Candidate for Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is not recommended for everyone and is not guaranteed to be successful for all stains or under all conditions. Conditions under which teeth whitening is not suggested or will be less fruitful include:
Children under 16
Prior to age 16 the pulp chamber, or nerve center of the tooth, is still expanding. Teeth whitening during this timeframe could result in discomfort or prolonged damage.
Doctors and Dentists typically do not recommend teeth whitening while pregnant or breast feeding to eliminate any chance that the whitening agents could impact the developing fetus or child.
Extra sensitive teeth
People with touchy teeth and gums may find teeth whitening to be especially bothersome as bleaching agents will exacerbate any sensitivities during and/or after whitening treatments.
Oral or tooth vulnerabilities such as gum infection or receding gum lines
People with gingivitis or retreating gums should deal with those particular dental issues before worrying about whitening their smile. Your mouth should be healthy before pursuing any whitening treatment or plan.
Cavities, crowns and other dental restorations
The composite materials used as a part of dental reclamations (bonding, sealant, filings, implants, crowns, bridges, etc.) will not whiten as these materials do not possess the same properties as your original teeth and will not be altered by whitening agents. As a result, tooth whitening efforts may produce an uneven appearance from one tooth to the next.
Stains resulting from Tetracycline or excess fluoride
Teeth that are stained from exposure to tetracycline or fluoride at a young age may not benefit from teeth whitening procedures. For these types of permanent stains alternate cosmetic dentistry methods, such as caps or veneers, may be required to produce whiter teeth.
Teeth whitening should be undertaken with caution and under the council of a dental professional. In order to align your teeth whitening expectations you should speak with your Dentist before beginning any teeth whitening treatment, including bleach trays or laser whitening, so that you aware of all important considerations.