Are your teeth discolored?March 10, 2020 6:22 am
Daily life takes its toll, and there’s only a lucky few people who are without any blotches, marks or stains on their teeth. Bad habits, food and drink, and even medicines can cause all manner of aesthetic problems. Unfortunately, badly stained teeth can make you feel really self-conscious about your smile.
- What is the staining exactly?
Staining can happen either on the inside or outside of teeth. Extrinsic discoloration is when the protective enamel on the outside of the tooth becomes stained, usually by food or drink. Intrinsic discoloration is when the dentin – the soft centre of the tooth – is stained instead. This can’t be done by food and is caused by medications. Certain types of antibiotics (tetracycline and doxycycline) are a cause, either taken by mum during pregnancy, or by children when they are very young. Antihistamines and blood pressure medicines can have a similar effect, and sadly, chemotherapy treatment can also cause tooth discoloration. Too much fluoride is another culprit for very young children. This can happen if children are given too many supplements, especially if local tap water has fluoride added (though this isn’t an issue in Dubai!). it’s best to talk to your dentist before giving children any fluoride supplement, or taking any yourself.
- What causes it?
Usually discoloration is caused by external factors – so the food and drink you consume, and the lifestyle choices you make, such as smoking. Coffee, red wine, and soft drinks are all common causes. Neglecting your tooth brushing routine can also encourage staining – simply because you aren’t cleaning off those stain-causing agents. Inside teeth, dentin naturally yellows over time, and enamel thins out also – allowing the duller colour to show through. So, as you get older, we all tend to have slightly darker teeth even with the best diet in the world. Some people are simply very lucky, and have naturally thick, bright tooth enamel – making the rest of us look dull in comparison!
- How to prevent it
If you can, avoid consuming the products that causes the staining in the first place. If not, then try drinking water during or afterwards – you can even use a little water as a mouthwash for extra cleaning. Chewing gum can help remove stains and encourages saliva production – your natural mouthwash! Just make sure the gum is sugar-free. In general, brush twice a day every day, for two minutes each time. Use a fluoride toothpaste. Floss regularly, and use an antiseptic mouthwash that will help remove surface marks. You might also want to make an appointment with the hygienist to have a regular six-monthly polish, in addition to seeing your regular dentist. This kind of deep clean will help scrub off stains that regular brushing can’t remove on its own. However, this shouldn’t be a substitute for seeing your normal dentist every six months for a general check-up.
- How to treat discoloration
Whitening toothpaste from your supermarket or pharmacy can sometime help remove a few surface stains, but they won’t remove the more stubborn discoloration. Professional teeth whitening via your dentist is the best way to get a bright white smile – Zoom Whitening by Phillips lightens up to six shades. It’s also very easy, as it’s done in less than an hour with your normal dentist. Or, you can buy the kit and do it yourself at home. This type of whitening will usually include ‘top-up’ treatments for later – meaning your newly white smile lasts extra-long.
- Other measures
If tooth whitening alone won’t fix the problem, there are other options. Veneers – thin layers of porcelain or resin composite, tailor-made to your teeth – can cover up any kind of marks. They also have the benefit of covering any gaps or chips in your teeth. A veneer will need more than one appointment to mould and fit, but is permanent. Bonding can also help if the staining is only small – this uses composite resin to cover a specific area, and can be done in a single visit to the dentist.
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