Fix Stained Teeth
Teeth can become stained by a variety of things. Possible causes of tooth staining include dark-colored foods and drinks, certain medical treatments, trauma, genetics, and aging. Dentists have access to a number of options to improve the color of the teeth and reduce staining. These solutions depend on the cause of the staining and should be discussed with your dentist if you’re interested in whitening your teeth and removing stains safely.
The simplest types of remedies for stained teeth are topical solutions like whitening toothpastes and whitening strips. Whitening toothpastes are specially formulated with polishing agents or chemical treatments to increase the power of their whitening abilities. While all toothpastes can help scrub stains off the teeth, whitening toothpastes can help lighten the teeth more significantly than regular toothpaste, depending on the cause of the staining. Whitening strips are applied directly to the teeth once or twice a day, usually over the course of a few weeks. These over-the-counter products contain peroxide-based bleaching agents that have been shown to improve mild tooth stains. They are available in the form of strips that are applied to the fronts of the teeth, or as a gel that is brushed onto the teeth. At-home bleaching trays are also designed to improve more mild tooth stains and may also have a beneficial effect on moderate tooth stains. Bleaching trays are plastic trays that are pre-filled with paste or gel that bleaches the teeth with peroxide-based bleaching agents. For a prescribed amount of time each day over the course of a month, the tray is pressed against the teeth, usually held together by the bite, exposing the teeth to the bleaching agent and gradually whitening the teeth. Bleaching trays are available over-the-counter and cost between $150 and $300. These trays may provide good results in cases of reasonably mild tooth stains, but they are not as powerful as available professional treatments, like custom trays from the dentist.
Custom bleaching trays are provided by dentists to be used by patients at home. These custom trays are more efficacious than over-the-counter whitening trays, as they are custom fitted to the patient’s mouth and teeth and therefore provide a tight seal that allows the maximum amount of bleaching agent to remain in contact with the teeth for the recommended amount of time. In-office bleaching trays use a bleaching solution that is stronger than any of the bleaching agents that are used in at-home treatments. In addition, dentists may combine heat or light with in-office bleaching agents to accelerate the whitening process and encourage more noticeable results. In-office bleaching trays can whiten the teeth as much as three to eight shades brighter over the course of multiple office visits. Rapid, in-office whitening treatments may also be available, depending on the dentist.
When tooth staining is severe or is a result of genetics, aging, or medication, other treatments are more effective than the aforementioned bleaching options. Porcelain veneers are paper-thin sheets of porcelain or resin that are bonded to the surfaces of the teeth, providing a drastically whitened smile. Dentists generally do not recommend any of the natural tooth-whitening remedies that can be found on the internet, like solutions that involve lemon, strawberries, or baking soda, as these solutions can significantly weaken the enamel on the teeth.