The popularity of teeth whitening has increased significantly over the last few years. This modern trend has initiated an upswing in patient requests for whitening treatments for their teeth during regularly scheduled dental appointments, or as separate appointments.
Since we live in a visually-focused world today in which one’s personal appearance is given high attention, more people want to have whiter, brighter teeth and attractive smiles. Many people today also want their teeth brightened in order to look more attractive in a home, school, work or special event photos and videos as well as when taking ‘selfies’ with friends.
Major Causes of Dull or Darkened Teeth Today
There are several main reasons for teeth having a dull or darkened appearance today, including the following:
- Use of Certain Antibiotics: If you take prescribed doses of an antibiotic such as tetracycline during childhood before your permanent teeth were fully developed, you may have some degree of darkening of your teeth caused by this medication.
- Fluoride in Well Water: In parts of the country where the drinking water supply comes from wells, too large an amount of fluoride added to the water can contribute to dull or somewhat darkened tooth coloration.
- Smoking: Regular or heavy smokers often experience some darkening of teeth, especially the front teeth that are most affected by smoke and direct contact with the end of a cigarette or cigar.
- Drinking Coffee and Tea or Red Wine: People who drink coffee, tea or red wine on a daily basis may also have darker shades of teeth than those who only consume these beverages every few days or occasionally.
- Citrus Fruits and Dark Colored Smoothies: Consuming daily meals that include citrus fruits or smoothies made from dark-colored vegetables and fruits such as beets, spinach, kale, blueberries or blackberries, can lead to discoloration of the teeth.
- Tooth Brush Abrasion: Brushing teeth too vigorously, especially with a firm bristle toothbrush, can cause thinning of the enamel, which lets the darker layer of tooth underneath show. Brushing too hard can also make the gums recede to some degree, revealing the top edges of tooth roots and the darker root coloration.
Brilliant White Teeth Are Not the Natural Norm
The most common natural color of teeth is yellow of various shades, but some teeth have blue, pink, brown or gray tints. Although a few lucky people have naturally beautiful, sparkling white teeth from a young age, this is rarer than you may think. Teeth with gray shades of coloration are the most difficult to whiten or bleach, while yellow tinged teeth will whiten most easily.
Teeth with brown blotches or streaks from excessive intake of coffee, tea, red wine or dark colored smoothies and organic drinks with dark fruit or vegetable contents can usually be whitened significantly. However, teeth darkened from doses of tetracycline in childhood are the most difficult to brighten to a more attractive, whiter shade.
Advanced Dental Treatments for Teeth Whitening
Fortunately, for anyone who wants to have whiter, brighter teeth and a healthy, youthful smile today, modern dentistry offers patients some medically approved, effective treatments for whitening teeth, including the following:
- Zoom! Whitening System: The Zoom! Whitening System is only for use in a dentist’s office. This fast and quite effective teeth whitening technique is copyrighted and approved as a safe procedure. First, a protective shield is applied to the lips and gums. Next, the Zoom gel is used to coat the teeth on the arch, and the Zoom light then causes activation of the gel so that it penetrates the tooth enamel for fast whitening. Afterward, fluoride is applied to the teeth to alleviate any discomfort due to sensitivity. In some cases, this procedure must be repeated in a subsequent visit to the dentist. Although it is safe and effective, this process can be rather costly.
- Laser Light Treatment: In this whitening procedure, a laser light is used to initiate oxygenation of the gel that is applied to teeth needing whitening. The laser promotes penetration of the gel by introducing a mild amount of heat. This teeth whitening process usually requires two visits to the dentist, each lasting about 15 to 20 minutes. In some instances, the light source used is not actually a laser, but merely a slight heating source. This technique may also cause some sensitivity of the teeth and gums.
- Customized Gel Trays: Gel trays that are made specifically for you by your dentist will fit you perfectly, while trays you purchase over-the-counter from your local pharmacy or discount drugstore most likely will not fit well. Another advantage of gel trays that are custom made to fit you is that they do not waste any gel and they can be used again, even many years later. Another good argument for opting for use of customized gel trays is that your dentist can use stronger, more effective chemicals for teeth whitening that you can obtain when buying gels over-the-counter. Amounts charged for whitening with gel trays are moderate to lower-high in cost range.
- Whitening Strips: These strips are made of plastic and are coated with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide for bleaching stains on teeth and whitening them. Whitening strips are inexpensive and can be bought in pharmacies, discount drugstores, and many convenience shops. However, they should not be used too frequently since overuse can result in damaged tooth enamel, causing an unnatural translucent appearance.
- Toothpaste and Mouthwash: Some kinds of toothpaste contain teeth whitening additives. They can remove superficial stains from teeth while introducing a chemical to the surface of the tooth enamel, which gives teeth a whiter appearance. Although some people recommend using a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution as a mouthwash for teeth whitening, this may not be a safe method. Most of the more widely sold commercial mouthwashes on the consumer market today will probably do just as good a job of brightening your teeth, and using them is safe.
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Professional Expertise for Brighter Teeth
For safe, effective and highly professional cosmetic dentistry in King of Prussia, PA, contact the dental specialists at King of Prussia Periodontics and Dental Implants. This fine dental practice includes the expertise of Dr. Marissa Crandall Cruz, Dr. Mana Nejadi, and Dr. Rimple Sandhu.
Dr. Cruz is a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and a member of the American Academy of Periodontology. Dr. Nejadi is the former Director of the Predoctoral Periodontics program at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Sandhu is an active member of the American Academy of Periodontology and the Delaware Valley Academy of Osseointegration. For further information and to arrange a consultation appointment, visit the office.