Everyone loves a pearly white smile, but everyday foods and beverages and other factors can cause discoloration in your teeth. This article explains what causes staining on your teeth and how bleaching works in the treatment of discoloured teeth.
What is staining caused by?
- Tea, coffee, and red wine.
- Chlorhexidine containing mouthwash (like Corsodyl).
- Some antibiotics.
- Some medication.
- Dental decay.
- Trauma to teeth.
What are the different types of staining on teeth?
- Extrinsic (external) staining
This is superficial surface staining that often looks brown or black in colour. It’s not harmful for your teeth and is easily removed with simple cleaning by the hygienist. Sometimes an abrasive toothpaste can remove some surface stain, and this is how ‘whitening toothpastes’ generally work. Check out our latest equipment that removes extrinsic staining gently and effortlessly by visiting our hygiene page.
- Intrinsic (internal) staining
This is staining that has built up in the internal portion of the tooth. Chromogenic particles transfer from the food and drinks we consume and get trapped inside the teeth. These particles are very small and diffuse through the enamel into the inside bit of the tooth, which is called the dentine. The dentine is porous, so it absorbs these small particles. As the particles accumulate, they get bigger, and hence become trapped in the structure of the teeth. The only way to remove these stains is by using dental bleach. See our teeth whitening page for more details.
How does teeth whitening work?
Teeth whitening is simple. All you need is three things for it to work:
High quality dental bleach – there is a vast difference in the quality of bleach and it’s important your dentist uses one from a reputable manufacturer and that the bleach is handled and stored correctly. Poorly handled dental bleach has significantly reduced effectiveness.
A well-fitting bleaching tray that has a good seal – the tray is used to hold the bleach up against the tooth. If the seal is poor, saliva will get underneath and wash the bleach away.
Time – you need a decent amount of time for the bleach to work. If you are expecting a quick result, then this procedure is not for you. You may have heard about a quick 45-minute power bleaching procedure, but this is false advertising, it is unlikely to work and may cause a lot of sensitivity. If it does work, the colour of your teeth will quickly go back to their normal level quickly too. Long term studies have shown the best way to whiten your teeth is during the night. The only time we advise against this is when we want to whiten a single tooth.
The way bleaching works is that it diffuses through the tooth, reaching the dentine. This is where it breaks the large stain particles down into smaller particles, allowing them to pass through the teeth.
Is teeth whitening permanent?
How long teeth whitening lasts relies on the patient. Results from professional teeth whitening can last for years, but this all depends on your daily habits. If you smoke or drink coffee, tea, or red wine on a regular basis, your teeth will become discoloured more quickly. It is easy to keep the colour of your teeth looking their best with top-ups performed at home every few months. At the start of the whitening process, you will need to do it for 10 – 14 days to get a decent result. To maintain that result we advise perhaps one top-up at night every 3 months.
How much does teeth whitening cost?
Our dentists charge £350 for at-home bleaching and £595 for power bleaching. Our prices include a brief examination to ensure your mouth is healthy enough for bleaching. For the top-ups (to maintain the nice white colour) it will normally cost you around £35 for the year. In most cases it will be cheaper that this, but this figure is it give you an idea of on-going costs. The expensive bit is the initial payment for the whitening trays and the bulk portion of the tooth whitening bleaching.
Which type of dental bleaching should I opt for?
If you want your teeth a little bit whiter but not intensely white, then go for the £350 at-home bleaching treatment. If you are getting married or want them really white, then go for the power bleaching.
Is teeth whitening safe?
Teeth whitening, if done by a dental professional, is a very safe and effective procedure. Studies have shown the whole bleaching process is the equivalent of drinking a can of coke. It’s important to remember that if you get the process performed by a non-dental professional, they are unregulated and not legally allowed to give you dental bleach. An unregulated dentist will be using various other chemicals to whiten your teeth which will not only be ineffective but may damage your teeth. Dental bleach has a pH of around 6.5 which is almost neutral, whereas non-dental bleach can be as low as 3.5pH. This doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it is worth noting that the pH scale is logarithmic therefore, each jump of 1pH is 10 times more acidic (e.g., pH2 is ten times more acidic than pH3 and so on). By this calculation, the figures above show non-dental bleach can be 1000 times more acidic. If you look at the ingredients a lot of them have citric acid in them which will erode your teeth. Think back to that memorable school experiment where a tooth was left in a glass of coke!
Can you eat after whitening your teeth?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to eat after whitening your teeth. However, it is best to avoid consuming too many foodstuffs that can stain your teeth like coffee, red wine etc.
How do I Learn More?
Teeth whitening is an affordable, convenient way to maintain a youthful look so why not call us today on 020 8643 5365 for a free consultation over the phone? Please note that we will ask some questions to ensure that you are a good candidate for treatment, such as information about your medical history.