Those smiling beauties in the toothpaste commercials must have some sort of special trick, right? After brushing just a few days with a specific brand of toothpaste… *POOF*… they smile to reveal a set of immaculate glowing white teeth. However, for those of us grounded in reality, we know that there are many factors that contribute to staining of the teeth. Some of these contributors may surprise you!
- Smoking and chewing tobacco: There are two ingredients that contribute to the yellowing of the teeth. Nicotine, though colorless, casts a yellowish hue when combined with oxygen. Tar, on the other hand, is naturally dark and over time, builds up in the microscopic pores on the surface of the teeth.
- Dark colored drinks (wine, tea, cola, sports drinks, coffee etc.): Dark colored drinks tend to leave a tinted residue on the surface of the teeth. Even the acidic nature of some light colored carbonated drinks may promote staining from other foods and drinks. The chemicals in highly acidic drinks such as soda and sports drinks eat away at the enamel of the tooth, revealing the darker colored dentin beneath it.
- Foods such as sauces, berries, popsicles, and hard candy: Deep colored sauces (soy, tomato, and curry to name a few) may leave traces of color on the teeth if consumed frequently. Berries, while full of healthful nutrients, contain rich colors that may tint the surface of the tooth. Treats such as hard candy and popsicles that turn your tongue various colors of the rainbow leave a slightly less visible effect on the teeth, too.
- Medical treatments: Medical treatments such as head and neck radiation can cause discoloration of the teeth.
- Medications: Tetracycline and doxycycline (antibiotics) can discolor the teeth, especially in children when the teeth are still forming. Antihistamines such as Benadryl, antipsychotic drugs, and high blood pressure medication may also darken the teeth.
- Aging: While we hate to accept it, teeth do naturally darken over time. After years of use, the enamel of the teeth slowly wears down, exposing the natural yellow of the dentin beneath it.
- Genetics: The shade of our teeth, much like our skin tone and hair color, vary greatly from person to person.
- Trauma: Teeth, much like the rest of our body, can bruise and discolor after experiencing trauma.
- Poor dental hygiene: Plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth discolors the teeth and can cause tooth decay, which can present itself as dark spots on the teeth.
- Dental materials: Since our teeth have a slightly translucent quality, dental materials such as amalgam (silver fillings) may cast a gray-black color throughout the tooth and neighboring teeth.
While some measures can be taken to keep your teeth bright, additional action can be taken to whiten your smile, such as professional teeth whitening.
Professional teeth whitening not only brightens the enamel, but also, unlike over-the-counter options, breaks up stains beneath the surface of the tooth that make the tooth appear dark when light passes through.
At Winning Smiles Adult Dentistry, we offer a variety of professional teeth whitening options to help you achieve your healthiest and most youthful looking smile! To schedule an appointment when a member of our adult dentistry team, call 716-332-2444.