These days everyone wants a whiter than white smile. You see sparkling, bright smiles on actors, news anchors, business leaders, and now even your friends and neighbors. If your own teeth are less than bright, you may be starting to feel self-conscious about it. Fortunately, whitening teeth is usually fast, easy, and effective. However, you are probably wondering what stained your teeth in the first place.

Types of tooth discoloration

There are essentially two types of tooth discoloration, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic staining is the most challenging. It occurs beneath the surface of the enamel. Often, it happens as the tooth is developing. Many people who were born before 1980 have dark deposits from an antibiotic called tetracycline. It was commonly prescribed to children for about 30 years before scientists discovered that it left calcified stains in developing teeth. Most whiteners are ineffective for this type of stain. At Pleasant Dental®, we offer KöR Deep Bleaching, which has been proven effective in many cases of tetracycline staining.

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Fortunately, the most common cause of discoloration is also the most easily remedied. Extrinsic staining occurs on the tooth surface. It is caused by dark substances contacting the enamel. Over time, the stains become darker, more noticeable, and more set in. This type of discoloration can usually be treated with simple take-home trays and professional bleaching gel from our office. If you prefer a faster solution, or the stains are very dark and set in, KöR would be a better option. We offer both options, to meet the varying needs of our patients.

Causes of extrinsic stains

If you want to avoid stains, or extend the results of whitening treatment, you need to be careful with darks foods and beverages. As a rule of thumb, anything that can stain a white shirt can also stain a white tooth. Anything that is high in acid content, or consumed at a high temperature, makes the enamel more susceptible to absorbing stains. No, you don’t have to give up your coffee, tea, wine, or favorite snacks. White teeth can be maintained with occasional touch-ups. Furthermore, you can minimize the damage with just a few simple changes in habits:

  • Drink through a straw, allowing most of the liquid to bypass your teeth
  • Rinse your mouth with plain water immediately after eating, or after drinking something dark-colored
  • Brush soon after meals (but wait at least 30 minutes for the enamel to harden if you’ve been eating something acidic)
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
  • Have your teeth cleaned by a dentist or hygienist every six months

Whatever has tarnished your pearly whites, we have a great solution. Call (708) 576-1900 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Dietrich to learn more about the best option for you.

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