A significant portion of adults, when asked what they would most like to change about their smile, answer tooth color. There are a variety of teeth whitening treatments on the market for those seeking a brighter smile. But do they work for all dental stains?

Dr. Jajung Yoon, Dr. Kartik Antani, and Dr. Jong Wook Park of Rio Rancho Smiles Family Dental in Rio Rancho, NM, will help you answer that question and determine the best course of action to get your pearly whites looking even whiter.

Why do teeth change color?

Tooth discoloration happens over time and can be the result of several factors, such as:

  • Diet – Foods that contain chromogens, a type of color pigment, are a major source of tooth discoloration. These chromogens attach to a white film of protein that covers the tooth called enamel and causes it to stain. Coffee, tea, wine, and soda are major dietary culprits that cause tooth color to change.
  • Tobacco – Tar and Nicotine, two chemicals found in tobacco, are also known to create tooth stains. Tar is dark in color. Nicotine, while colorless in its natural state, turns yellowish when mixed with oxygen and stains the surface of teeth it comes into contact with.
  • Age – While enamel is white, just beneath the enamel layer on teeth lies a more yellowish layer called dentin. As individuals age, the outer enamel layer thins more of the dentin shows through.
  • Trauma – Trauma to the tooth may cause teeth to change color as teeth react to trauma by laying down more dentin, which is darker in tone.
  • Medication – Individuals who take medications may experience tooth darkening as tooth darkening can be a side effect of medications such as antihistamines and high blood pressure medications, among others.

Will teeth whitening work on all stains?

Dental professionals have identified two main types of tooth stains:

  1. Extrinsic stains – Extrinsic tooth stains lie on the surface of the tooth. It occurs most often from residue from food and drinks building up on the tooth’s enamel. This type of tooth stain, which is usually yellow, responds the best to teeth whitening, as well as regular dental cleaning and brushing with special whitening toothpastes. Professional whitening treatments can brighten teeth up to eight shades.
  1. Intrinsic stains – An intrinsic stain is a stain that has penetrated below the surface of a tooth. It occurs when stain-causing molecules deposit within the tooth enamel. These teeth are typically brown or grey. Intrinsic stains do not respond to whitening treatments. Your dentist may recommend dental veneers to cover this type of discoloration.

Additionally, whitening does not work on fillings, crowns, veneers, or caps. Whitening will also not work if tooth discoloration is due to medication or trauma.

Are there any adverse effects from tooth whitening?

Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity after whitening treatment. This is usually due to peroxide in the whitener getting beneath the tooth’s enamel and irritating the nerve. This condition is usually temporary.

Teeth Whitening in Rio Rancho, NM

Dr. Yoon, Dr. Antani, Dr. Park, and our team at Rio Rancho Smiles Family Dental are ready to answer all of your teeth-whitening questions and guide you toward the best solution. Call (505) 994-9693 to schedule a free consultation or book an appointment online through our contact page today.