It’s no surprise that everyone wants white teeth. We not only associate whiter teeth with attractiveness, but also with better oral health and hygiene. But believe it or not, even though the oral health care market is worth £1.23 billion, teeth whitening didn’t become popular until the late 1980s.
As a dental hygienist in London, I should be pleased that more and more people are taking care of their oral health, but I often worry about those that are obsessed with the look of their teeth strictly for vanity purposes. This is particularly concerning when I read horror stories about men and women getting their teeth whitened by non-dental professionals, and then having to deal with the consequences.
In 2017 the Oral Health Foundation reported an increase in people getting their teeth whitened in the UK’s illegal tooth whitening industry. Thousands admitted to putting themselves at risk by having the procedure carried out by illegal, untrained and dangerous providers!
One of things we must remember is that teeth staining is completely normal, and occurs in everybody for a variety of reasons, such as from eating various foods and drinks, or by habits such as smoking and inadequate brushing.
What Causes Discolouration of Teeth?
Teeth staining has two categories: extrinsic - staining the outside of the teeth; and intrinsic - staining from within the teeth. It is always important to identify which type of staining you have, what might have caused it, and how to improve it.
Extrinsic stains affect the hard-outer layer of the teeth, known as the enamel. When this coating of the teeth is discoloured, a yellowish tint is apparent. Due to the susceptibility of enamel to staining, many individuals have yellowed teeth. Staining of the enamel is not permanent and can be easily reversed with treatments through professional stain removal and tooth whitening. Steer away from home remedies. Often these products are abrasive and can scratch the enamel making them more susceptible to staining - such as whitening toothpastes.
Extrinsic stains occur as a result of chosen routines and lifestyles. People who smoke, drink coffee, teas, red wine and dark-coloured foods and beverages are more likely to suffer from staining of the enamel. Think of it this way – if it can stain your carpet, it can stain your teeth.
Foods and drinks with dark hues such as soy sauce, balsamic dressing, blueberries, beetroot, tumeric and others all have an impact on the shade of your teeth. Though with correct care, such as frequent trips to your hygienist and a personally tailored oral hygiene routine, you can manage the consequences of staining on teeth.
Intrinsic stains are much harder to counteract as they tend to impact the inner layer of the teeth known as dentin. Treatments involving radiation and chemotherapy are known to cause discoloration, especially when they are centred on the head and neck areas. The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are also well documented and proven to cause dark grey and brown stains on teeth. In addition some medications can cause a dry mouth, and this lack of saliva can affect the natural cleansing of the mouth and increase the risk of dental decay, gum disease and staining.
Trauma to permanent teeth can cause discolouration. High exposure to fluoride such as in drinking water, as well as inherited conditions, can lead to intrinsic staining.
Other Causes of Staining
Age can also be a primary cause of yellowing because with age enamel loses its density over time, making it more transparent. As the enamel becomes transparent, the dentin is visible, and since dentin yellows over time as well, teeth appear less white. Other issues include years of smoking, eating certain foods, and chips or cracks in teeth.
Treatments for Discoloured Teeth
The best way to treat teeth staining is to keep to regular dental and hygienist appointments. Visit the dentist at least once a year and the hygienist a minimum of twice a year to keep your smile as gleaming as possible. It’ll pay off.
Professional stain removal offers more substantial results in a short period. Airflow is an innovative technique that uses a remarkable combination of water, air and fine powder to eliminate biofilm, surface stains, and early calculus quickly and gently. After a routine hygiene appointment, this procedure is performed and completed in a matter of minutes.
If you still want to improve the colour of your teeth, you can opt for teeth whitening. Options include in-surgery treatments that take approximately an hour, or home whitening systems that gradually brighten your teeth over the course of two weeks.
Home whitening is a great investment because you can keep your custom-made trays and ‘top-up’ your whitening a few times a year with professionally formulated gels.
If you want a whiter smile, book an appointment with London Hygienist at either our Clapham Hygienist or Chelsea Hygienist location. This month at Clapham we're offering £100 off home whitening and 10% off our Diamond Clean, which includes AirFlow Stain Removal. Learn more about our offers.