An Overview of Teeth Discoloration, Causes, and Teeth Whitening Procedures

An Overview of Teeth Discoloration, Causes, and Teeth Whitening Procedures

May 01, 2021

Tooth whitening is the process of lightening the color of natural human teeth. Teeth may lose their bright white color over time due to various reasons. What we drink, eat, smoke, the medications we use, and even advancing in age affect the color of our teeth. During the whitening teeth procedure, bleaching and non-bleaching whitening products are used. The main component in bleaching products is peroxide which removes stains and makes teeth lighter than their natural shade.

Types of Teeth Stains and Their Causes

  • Extrinsic staining

This type of staining and discoloration affects only the surface of the tooth. It is caused by pigments in items that contain colored compounds which are absorbed onto the tooth surface. These stains can be removed through using specific toothpaste, micro-abrasion, or dental prophylaxis.

Different causes of stains are;

  • The nicotine and tar found in tobacco products form a brown-yellow-black stain on the base of the teeth and the gum line.
  • Red wine, coffee, and tea contain tannin, which stains our dental enamel in a brown color because of its chromogenic nature.
  • Dental plaque that forms naturally in our mouths – When plaque accumulates on the tooth surface, it causes enamel demineralization and the formation of white spot lesions.
  • Accumulated plaque causes calculus which stains the surface of the tooth brown, grey, black or yellow.
  • Medications or mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine stain the tooth surface
  • Exposure to metallic compounds like iron, copper, or iodine
  • Intrinsic staining

These are deep stains in the tooth that cannot be removed by debridement or prophylaxis. This type of stain occurs during tooth development.

Causes of intrinsic staining are:

  • Dental trauma may cause staining when pulp necrosis takes place
  • Dental fluorosis. It occurs due to excess ingestion or exposure to fluoride
  • Tooth decay
  • Aging and tooth wear where there is loss of enamel and dentine caused by abrasion, attrition, or tooth erosion
  • The materials used in tooth restoration sometimes contain pigments that stain the dentine
  • Medications that contain tetracycline and minocycline stain the teeth

Teeth Whitening Products and Systems

Teeth whitening in Houston may be done at home using over-the-counter products or professionally in the teeth whitening clinic near you.

  • In-Office Tooth Whitening

Also called in-chair whitening, this method involves the dentist every step of the way. It is done professionally by a dentist who will consider your health and dental history and discuss your expectations with you. The dentist who performs teeth whitening in Houston, TX, will examine your teeth and gums thoroughly through digital imaging. This is to ensure that complications like excessive sensitivity do not occur.

The dentist uses teeth whitening shade guides to measure your tooth color before and after in order to determine whether the procedure is effective. The professional uses cheek retractors to keep cheeks and lips away and gingival barriers to protect the gums. This dentist uses products that contain peroxide, similar to over-the-counter products, but light-accelerated bleaching makes the difference. The dentist uses light energy to accelerate the process of teeth whitening. Customized bleaching trays are made for the patient to use at home to maintain the results of the teeth whitening procedure.

Some in-office teeth whitening procedures are;

  • Laser teeth whitening. A peroxide-based gel is pasted on the teeth carefully. A beam of light from the laser is directed to the tooth that requires whitening. It produces heat which breaks down stains and lightens the color of the teeth.
  • Zoom teeth whitening. The hydrogen peroxide gel applied to the teeth must remain on the surface of the teeth for 15 minutes while the zoom light is activated.
  • Home Based Tooth Whitening

This involves the use of over-the-counter products which you buy yourself and use as per the manufacturer’s instructions or visit your dentist for tooth whitening products. At Armstrong-Katzmark DDS, our dentist prepares professional teeth whitening kits that can be used at home. These kits are personalized based on the patient’s needs and preferences.

Some home-based tooth whitening products are;

  • Strips and gels that contain peroxide. The strips are customized to fit the labial surfaces of the teeth. These are used for 30 minutes daily for two weeks.
  • Tray-based teeth whitening. A fitted tray that contains carbamide peroxide gel is worn to lighten the color of teeth two shades lighter.
  • Baking soda.
  • Special toothpaste that contains a higher amount of detergents and abrasives