Live on the Sunshine Coast? Here’s what you need to know to achieve that bright-white Hollywood smile.
A Brief Lesson in Tooth Anatomy
What if I said that natural teeth aren’t actually that white? The second layer of tooth structure, dentine, is actually yellow! Enamel is the outer white layer and “the protector” of our teeth. At the tips of our front teeth, there is only enamel and it can appear translucent even sometimes greyish. When the enamel becomes thin or lost, for example, due to traumatic forces like brushing too hard or acid wear, that yellow layer of our teeth can be seen. Suddenly our teeth look more yellow. Sadly, there is no way to bring back enamel once it is gone.
Why Are My Teeth Stained?
Common causes of stained teeth:
- Plaque and chromogenic bacteria: depending on where the build-up is in your mouth can look yellow to black/grey in colour. Chromogenic bacteria are a type of bacteria that stain brown/black in colour.
- Culprit foods: Anything dark! Think beetroot, berries and turmeric
- Drinks such as wine, coffee, tea, dark sodas (coca-cola)
- Liquid iron supplements
- Certain mouthwashes: Long term use of chlorhexidine mouthwash (Savacol) can stain teeth brown
- Surface irregularities like deep grooves or pits in teeth can trap stains as well
- Saliva has an impact: mouth breathing and/or dry mouth (things tend to stick more in dry mouths and mouth breathers)
But most importantly decay stains teeth! Dental check-ups are important to rule out any decay. Whitening will not help as it will weaken the surrounding tooth structure in an already weak area.
A different type of staining is intrinsic staining, and it is much harder to treat than your surface stains. Intrinsic staining includes trauma during development or afterwards, developmental defects of enamel and dentine, tetracycline staining, dead tooth, root canal treated teeth, fluorosis (which can range in severity) and some rare conditions. Discuss options with your dentist on how to treat or improve the appearance in these cases.
Why Do My Teeth Look More Yellow Than Before?
Not only is what you put in your mouth important but so is the overall health of your mouth. Periodontal disease can lead to gum recession which is when the gum shrinks away, and your teeth look longer. When the gum recedes, the root surface of the tooth which has dentine is exposed (remember that yellow second layer we talked about) so the bottom of your teeth will suddenly appear more yellow. This area is also more sensitive as it doesn’t have the gums protecting it anymore. Brushing aggressively can also cause gum recession, so be gentle and take out your frustration at the gym rather than on your teeth! Whitening this area can feel very sensitive in some people; I generally do not recommend using whitening products for these cases. Speak to your dentist about the other options available.
Teeth grinding can wear down the enamel and expose the dentine. This can not only make your teeth look shorter but also more yellow. This is generally seen on the biting surfaces of your teeth. Acid wear as mentioned before can also cause your teeth to look more yellow. Highly acidic foods such as lemons, oranges (including juices), and apple cider vinegar should be had in moderation.
How Can I Whiten My Teeth?
I recommend a clean first- you may be surprised how much whiter your teeth will look with the surface stains removed. As well, a check-up is important before jumping into it!
If you have any fillings, veneers or crowns/caps especially on the front teeth, you’ll want to discuss with your dentist the best way to approach it. Fillings may need to be replaced with a lighter shade as the whitening product cannot whiten your existing restorations. Careful thought and discussion should be had if you are unhappy with the existing shade of your crowns and veneers as these require more extensive treatment.
Teeth Whitening Sunshine Coast
Here at Dentistry on Coolum, we offer prescribed “At-home Whitening” Services. It is a safe and efficient method to whiten your teeth when performed under the care of your dentist. There are various whitening products that can be used such as Hydrogen Peroxide, Carbamide Peroxide or Sodium Perborate. Dentists have access to stronger concentrations of these products which you will not find over the counter. Once you have your custom-made whitening trays and gel you are ready to go! It generally takes 1-2 weeks to whiten your teeth at home but in some, results can be seen in a little as several days.
The length of time needed to wear the trays varies on the type of gel used, ask your dentist what the right timeframe is for you. Side effects can include a chemical burn on the gums, if care is not taken when applying the bleaching product; the saying ‘less is more’ is key here when it comes to applying the gel. Tooth and gum sensitivity can occur during the whitening process, for that reason, I recommend starting using a sensitive toothpaste 2 weeks prior to teeth whitening and continue during treatment. If teeth are experiencing high levels of sensitivity, a special gel can be used immediately after whitening to help relieve the sensitivity. Generally, sensitivity if present subsides after a few days.
At-home whitening is a cost-effective option as you can keep on reusing your custom-made trays when needed. If you are considering teeth whitening on the Sunshine Coast and think you’re ready to take the next step towards teeth whitening, give us a call at 07 5446 1616 to book in for a comprehensive exam.
Before and after teeth whitening