How do I get my teeth whiter?
Everyone seems to want whiter teeth not just “C list” celebrities. The definition of white is the total reflection of the light spectrum and therefore no one has perfectly white teeth. Most human teeth have a tinge of yellow, grey or brown. The problem is that discoloured teeth are associated with poor oral health and bad habits i.e. smoking.
Teeth discolouration can be either extrinsic due to external staining or intrinsic (internal colouration of the tooth).
External stains are caused by tobacco products and certain foods and drinks.
Internal tooth discolouration can be due to aging (thinning of the enamel and old tooth coloured restorations), medications (tetracycline), trauma to the tooth, or excessive fluoride ingestion when teeth were forming (0-6 years)
So how do you get your teeth whiter?
- If the problem is external staining then the simplest and cheapest way to avoid discolouration is to refrain from smoking or tobacco products, staining foods and drink. These include coffee, red wine and highly coloured foods e.g. tomato based products. It would also be recommended to avoid highly acidic and sweetened food and drinks. These can affect the tooth enamel, making them more susceptible to staining.
- A good oral hygiene regime. Clean teeth twice a day using a regular toothpaste. There has been an increase of so called 'whitening toothpaste' on the market. These have been shown to be more abrasive so may remove the staining but can also cause microscopic damage to the tooth and existing restorations. The newer whitening toothpaste boast staining busting enzymes however there is limited clinical evidence for their effectiveness.
- Regular attendance at the dentist and hygienist. Professional cleaning can remove the more stubborn staining without damaging the tooth.
- For internal staining, it is more complex. If it is just an old tooth coloured filling that has discoloured this can be polished or simply replaced.
- To intrinsically whiten the teeth, this will require bleaching of the teeth using professionally administered peroxide bleaching agents. These will be discussed separately.
More invasive treatment can be advised i.e. veneers and crown however this can damage the teeth quite significantly.