Our smiles are one of the ways we are seen by the world. Clean, white teeth are a sign of health and cleanliness. No one wants to smile with stained, unhealthy teeth. Understanding the different kinds of stains and discolorations is an important part of your decision in teeth whitening.

Deciding to Whiten

There are different kinds of stains and discolorations that could require a dental visit instead of a tooth whitening product. First and foremost, before any of these procedures are undertaken you should schedule a cleaning at your dental office. You also want to ensure that any cavities or gum problems you might have are addressed before you start any tooth whitening processes. If you do whiten before seeing your dental provider you could cause yourself pain and bigger problems.

What Makes Up A Tooth?

First, understanding what makes up your tooth helps to understand what process you will use. Your tooth is enamel on the outside and this is where the whitening takes place. The next level of the tooth under the enamel is the dentin, then the pulp and all those lovely nerves that can wreck havoc when you get a toothache. It is important to understand this because, when you visit your dentist for the cosmetic procedure of teeth whitening, you will actually have two options: one for live teeth (with the nerve) and one for teeth without (root canal teeth). Teeth without a nerve will usually need a non-vital whitening that will clean the tooth from the inside out. Vital whitening for live, healthy teeth will not usually work on those teeth.

Types of Stains

There are different kinds of stains and discolorations that affect teeth and will return after teeth whitening if these habits are continued:

  • Smoking (tobacco stains)
  • Coffee or tea drinking
  • Red wine drinking
  • Sugary soda stains
  • Poor hygiene

Some stains, like a dead tooth, or the stains left from certain medicines, will need to be checked by your dentist before deciding the best steps to take.

Whitening at Home

Now if you go to the drugstore there are tons of teeth whitening toothpastes and kits that include trays and strips. Trays at your dental office are made to fit your teeth exactly by making an impression of your teeth first, so that the tray fits and covers your teeth in all areas. A general one size fits all tray that you would find at the drugstore will not work as well as the impression tray. Strips as well will fit across your teeth but do have a tendency to move and not stick in between teeth. Whitening toothpastes are another option that uses abrasion to clean off stains. However, this will not help set in stains.

Visit Your Dentist

The bottom line is that the best line of defense against stains is to practice excellent oral hygiene and visit a good dentist. Because whitening your teeth is a cosmetic procedure and you want it to work well and last for years, you should definitely do so with the help of a knowledgeable professional.

If you’re interested in more information, or would like to make an appointment to discuss having your teeth whitened, contact the office of Dr. Larry D. Molenda, D.D.S. in San Marcos, TX.