Contrary to popular belief, tooth enamel is not always naturally white. It also tends to change color and get stained as you grow older.
8 Reasons Why Your Teeth May Not be Pearly White
The teeth in your family may be genetically of a darker shade
Teeth grow darker with age
Certain illnesses cause teeth to darken
Fractures/injury to the teeth
Use of medicines that can stain teeth
Smoking or chewing tobacco
Consumption of food/drinks that stain the teeth, like red wine or cola
Too much fluoride at the time of tooth development
How to Whiten Your Teeth
Tooth whitening agents are mainly of three types:-
1. Whitening Toothpastes
These are the gentlest tooth-whitening agents and do not have any side effects because they do not cause any chemical reaction. Toothpastes have fine abrasives that polish the surfaces of your teeth and whiten them over time. They can be bought over-the-counter at any general store.
2. Home-use Whiteners
These are either prescribed by the dentist or can be bought over-the-counter. But it is always better to use them following your dentist’s instructions as they contain the chemical peroxide in them, which acts by going under the surface of your enamel and lightening your teeth through a chemical reaction.
Home-use whiteners can be used with trays, as rinses and strips, or applied with brushes. Sometimes the dentist can prepare a custom tray for you for placing the whitening gel before use. These trays usually are given when the whitening agent must remain in contact with the teeth for a longer period of time. But always follow your dentist’s instructions with these because peroxide can irritate the teeth and adjacent tissues over time.
3. In-office Whiteners
These are stronger than home-use whiteners or whitening toothpastes as they contain concentrated peroxide. And because of this they act faster than the other two types. But precaution needs to be taken before their use as they contain strong chemicals. Dentists will apply a thin sheet of rubber or protective gel over your gums before they apply these whiteners. In-office whitening is usually completed in one hour.
Side Effects of Whitening Agents
Your teeth are generally sensitive to hot and cold temperatures after treatment but this doesn’t persist beyond a few days.
Your gums may become irritated for the next few days.
Always follow instructions when using home-use whiteners because overuse can severely harm your enamel and even cause sores in your mouth.
People suffering from gum diseases or tooth decay should avoid using whitening agents before consulting their dentists.
Whitening agents will not change the color of restorations or crowns already placed in your mouth. Only the teeth will whiten. Consult your dentist for the same.
Teeth are more susceptible to external stains immediately after teeth-whitening. Therefore, it is important to avoid tobacco use or food/beverages that might contain external coloring agents in them.
Always remember that teeth tend to return to their original shade with time, but if maintained with care they will remain white and bright for many years.