Reasons a Cosmetic Dentist May Recommend Teeth Whitening for Stained Teeth

cosmetic dentist Annapolis, MD

For those with stained teeth, whitening from a cosmetic dentist is more effective and available than ever. At-home teeth whitening treatments, including toothpastes, gels and strips can remove surface stains for some. However, for others, these over-the-counter products may be ineffective, or even painful. A dentist may recommend in-office whitening for those with certain needs.

Advantages of in-office teeth whitening

For patients with significant tooth stains, a sensitive mouth or the need for immediate results, in-office whitening offers several benefits.

Higher peroxide concentration

Depending on the type and depth of teeth stains, over-the-counter remedies may not be effective. At-home teeth whitening remedies typically contain 10% or lower peroxide concentrations. In-office solutions can contain as much as 38%.

Customs tray to protect sensitive gums

Over-the-counter products are not individually fitted and thus pose a risk to sensitive teeth. The trays used by dentists are custom-molded to prevent peroxide coming into contact with the gums. Dentists may also offer a variety of specialized treatments to reduce sensitivity.   

Results in hours instead of weeks

Over-the-counter products often take weeks to produce visible results. In-office teeth whitening can offer up to 10 shades difference in a matter of hours. This makes going to a cosmetic dentist preferable for those needing immediate results, such as for an interview, wedding photos or another special event.

Types of tooth stains

To determine when a higher peroxide concentration may be necessary, dentists differentiate between extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration.

Extrinsic discoloration

Extrinsic discoloration describes stains on the surface of the teeth typically caused by certain foods and supplements. Some of the worst offenders are coffee, tea, tobacco and red wine. Any food or drink with color can cause staining over time, though.

Exposure to iron, copper or other metal salts, whether through supplements or medications, mouth rinses or occupational contact, have also been known to cause extrinsic tooth discoloration. If mild, these can often be addressed by over-the-counter products. However, over time, these stains can integrate into the enamel and dentin, requiring more intensive treatment.  

Intrinsic discoloration

Intrinsic discoloration is more difficult to address than surface stains. This discoloration comes from within the tooth and is commonly caused by certain medications, aging or tooth trauma.

Tetracycline, doxycycline or other antibiotics taken as a child are some of the most common causes of deep staining. Fluoride, while good for cavity prevention, can cause intrinsic teeth discoloration when taken in excessive amounts during enamel development. This is called fluorosis.

As aging takes place, tooth enamel is worn down, and "secondary dentin," a new layer of calcified tissue, is produced, darkening teeth from inside. Trauma to a tooth can also activate dentin production, causing discoloration. Intrinsic stains rarely respond to over-the-counter treatments and may require cosmetic dentistry.

Conclusion

Depending on the cause and severity of tooth stains, the level of gum sensitivity and the immediacy of whitening needs, in-office treatments are often preferred. A cosmetic dentist can help decide the type of teeth whitening that is right for your mouth.

Are you considering cosmetic dentistry in the Annapolis area? Get more information at https://www.lighthousefamilydentistry.com.

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