Today's culture tends to make us aware of every flaw in our appearance. One flaw that is, to a great degree controllable, is the whiteness of our teeth. Unfortunately, there are some uncontrollable causes of tooth discoloration. Cosmetic dentists caution that tooth whitening has limits that vary from person to person. But, they also offer hope for people whose teeth are untreatably discolored.
Tooth Discoloration Facts
Many common causes of tooth discoloration are completely controllable, either by avoiding contact with them or by frequent brushing and flossing. They include brightly colored foods, like blueberries, cranberries or beets. Colored drinks like red wine, cola, coffee or tea can also stain teeth. Tobacco in any form is never a good experience for teeth.
Cosmetic dentists advise good dental hygiene to keep your teeth as stain-free as possible. They also recommend eliminating or at least reducing consumption of stain-causing food and drink, and warn against all tobacco use.
Medicines like tetracycline and fluoride can darken teeth by damaging the tooth enamel itself. These causes fall into the "maybe they can be whitened" category. Some tooth discoloration is harder to treat with tooth whitening and may require stronger solutions or repeated applications of the whitening treatment. Results vary, and teeth may not whiten to their original brightness.
Aging also results in darkened teeth because enamel wears away with use over the years. The naturally yellow-tinged dentine beneath the enamel thickens and shows through the translucent enamel.
As with most things relating to our physical and oral health, each person will experience tooth discoloration for different reasons. We are not born with identical features anywhere on our bodies, and that holds true for the color of our teeth. Some people naturally have darker enamel while even close relatives may have lighter tooth enamel.
Cosmetic dentists acknowledge that there is less control over these latter causes of tooth discoloration, but offer hope that good hygiene will maintain bright tooth color and prevent, or at least slow, further discoloration. When that is not enough, they still have ways to help you get the nice white teeth you desire.
Tooth Whitening Options
Porcelain veneers or tooth bonding are wonderful solutions for teeth that cannot be whitened to brightness you desire. Porcelain veneers completely cover the visible portion of your front teeth, and can be colored to any level of whiteness that looks best for you. Back teeth can have crowns placed, or the color of the front veneers can be graduated to blend smoothly from front to back.