In the age of Instagram influencers and targeted marketing, misinformation is easy to come by — especially when it comes to teeth whitening. Being embarrassed by the shade of your teeth is fairly common. A few polls have suggested that nearly one-third of American adults are unhappy with their teeth. Considering that discolored teeth have become more common, due to an increase in coffee drinkers and the availability of certain foods known to cause stains, it’s no wonder why teeth whitening alternatives containing charcoal have risen in popularity, even though such products can be overly abrasive, damaging tooth enamel.

If you’ve become embarrassed by the shade of your teeth, and are hoping for a solution, this guide will explain what causes discoloration, as well as a safe and effective teeth whitening procedure.

Woman with white smile taking a selfie for Instagram

What Causes Discoloration?

There are two kinds of tooth discoloration that happen: extrinsic staining and intrinsic staining. Intrinsic staining is less common, and occurs inside the enamel in the dentin layer of teeth. Sometimes discoloration even comes from the tooth pulp, such as when a tooth is infected.  Generally, intrinsic staining is the result of certain medications, aging, or genetics. If you’ve been affected by intrinsic staining, teeth whitening of any kinds may not be effective. A better solution would be a procedure like porcelain veneers or dental crowns.

Extrinsic staining is the most common tooth discoloration patients experience. This occurs in the enamel of teeth, and can be effectively corrected with professional teeth whitening. Extrinsic staining happens when staining agents contained in certain foods (and cigarettes) become trapped in our enamel. While many patients assume their enamel is smooth, it actually contains natural ridges and pores. Over time, enough staining agents begin to collect to affect the overall color of your teeth.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening works by addressing the cause of teeth discoloration: staining agents. Using teeth whitening chemicals like peroxide, this process will break down and dissolve staining agents, leaving your teeth up to eight shades whiter. This process can be done in under an hour, and usually involves three treatments. First, the chemical solution is painted onto the visible surfaces of your teeth, and then activated using a light catalyst. This process is then repeated three times to dissolve as much staining as possible.

Professional teeth whitening is known to be safer and more effective than other over-the-counter solutions for a few reasons. Because the procedure is completed in-office by dental hygienist who have received training on properly preparing chemical whitening solutions, they are generally stronger. In-office teeth whitening using peroxide-based agents are also better tested than methods using charcoal-based products.

If you are unhappy with your discolored teeth and want to learn more about teeth whitening in Anchorage, please call (907) 349-0022 or Contact us today to make an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Excellence in Dentistry.