What Causes Tooth Staining

Tooth staining is the most common reason why teeth become discolored. There are many sources of tooth staining that you encounter on a daily basis. Some of these are obvious, such as:

  • Coffee
  • Black tea
  • Colas
  • Dark beer
  • Red wine
  • Chocolate
  • Berries

Essentially, any dark-colored food or beverage could potentially lead to tooth staining.

But it’s not just dark-colored materials that cause tooth staining. There are some surprising sources of teeth staining that you might not identify at first. Apples, for example, can contribute to staining. Even though they start out white, they contain chemicals that turn dark on exposure to oxygen. And clear sodas, sparkling water, and white wine all contribute to staining because their acidic. This opens up the tooth enamel and allows staining molecules to penetrate and get trapped.

Professional teeth whitening in Rochester, NY

How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth whitening uses a variation on peroxide to break down the staining molecules and remove them from your enamel. There are different ways we can apply the peroxide.

First, we can do an in-office whitening procedure. This uses a highly concentrated whitening compound that is painted on your teeth and an activator light that helps keep the peroxide active and attacking stain molecules. This type of procedure can dramatically whiten your teeth in under an hour, and works great if you have a special occasion coming up that you don’t have time to gradually whiten your teeth.

We also offer at-home teeth whitening which takes longer to get results, which develop gradually, but your teeth can get whiter—and you can maintain those results indefinitely.

We can even use both approaches together: get an instant whitening, then gradually improve those results.

The Limits of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening works by removing stain molecules from your teeth, but that’s not the only reason why your teeth might look discolored. Your teeth might look discolored, ironically, because you’ve whitened them too much, such as using too many whitening strips or trays. This can thin the enamel allowing the yellowish dentin to show through.

Teeth can be discolored by defects in the enamel. They can also be discolored as a result of trauma, which is more like a tooth bruise, staining a tooth from the inside.

In all of these cases, teeth whitening won’t help. Instead, we have to use another approach to whitening your teeth, covering them with porcelain veneers or dental crowns. With eroded teeth, dental crowns are preferred because they protect your teeth.

If you would like to learn more about teeth whitening or gum bleaching in Rochester and whether it can give you a bright, beautiful smile, please call (585) 244-3337 or email us for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Contemporary dentistry.