Keeping your teeth white is hard. Not only are there many ways that you can turn your teeth yellow, but it’s also just a fact of aging. Even if you do all of the right things to keep your teeth white, yellowing is inevitable. So why do our teeth turn yellow as we age? There are two reasons big reasons why teeth yellow as they age:
- The enamel on your teeth (think of this as your teeth’s protective armor) is getting thinner due to wear and tear. Tooth enamel can also become stained when you drink tea, coffee, or wine, or when you smoke tobacco. However, the inner color of the teeth is still ok as long as the enamel isn’t gone.
- As your enamel is getting thinner, your dentin is becoming darker as you age. Your enamel itself is important to protect since enamel can’t grow back. Your new dentin as you age appears darker. The discolored dentin reflects through the thinner enamel, which is what makes your teeth appear yellow.
These two points are just the facts of life. As you age, you need to be more vigilant when it comes to taking care of your teeth. But there is also more to it than just aging.
There are many other reasons that your teeth can become yellow that are in your control. Whitening has also become an easier solution to treating yellowing as time has marched on. But there are also risks to it that Toronto residents need to know. There are whitening methods that are beneficial and whitening methods that can be very harmful.
It’s important for people to know how teeth whitening works
Did you know that there are two kinds of teeth whitening? One kind of whitening is changing the color of the insides of the teeth. The other is simply removing stains on the outside of the teeth. Whenever patients come to our downtown Toronto dentistry looking to whiten their teeth, we explain to them the difference between intrinsic whitening and extrinsic whitening.
- With intrinsic whitening, this goes back to the color of your dentin. Intrinsic whitening procedures take care of that inner part of the tooth. One of the ways we treat teeth with intrinsic whitening is to give it hydrogen peroxide gel, which the dentin soaks up. As the dentin soaks up the hydrogen peroxide gel, your teeth become whiter because the color that is being reflected through the enamel is now lighter.
- Extrinsic whitening removes stains on your enamel. These are the stains on your enamel that come from drinking coffee, tea, or smoking. These stains can be removed by our downtown Toronto dentists during routine cleanings.
We need to advise you that there are many unsafe extrinsic whitening solutions that are on the market. For example, let’s take Whitestrips, such as Crest Whitestrips. Whitestrips expose your gums to dangerous chemicals. When whitening strips touch other live tissue, they cause free radical reactions to your gums. Free radicals are also what speed up the aging process. Instead, we suggest using a stain-removing electric toothbrush.
Toothpaste won’t help whiten your teeth if they have intrinsic yellowing
If you have intrinsic yellowing, you’ll need to whiten your teeth using a bleaching gel that is held up against the teeth. If you want to start treating your teeth for intrinsic yellowing, this can be done for you right at our office in downtown Toronto.
We also feel the need to point out that if you have gum disease, exposed roots, cavities, or other untreated issues, whitening your teeth should not be your first priority. In fact, whitening your teeth will only advance your pain. Our downtown Toronto dentists will not whiten your teeth if they have any other issues such as tooth decay. If you need a root canal, for example, we would not recommend that whitening your teeth be a priority.
Also, when your teeth have been exposed to a whitening gel, they will become more sensitive. Usually, this sensitivity lasts for a day, but it can be longer. Remember that with intrinsic whitening, your dentin is being directly impacted. Nerve endings are sensitive to pain!
Whitening is temporary, and how long it lasts depends on how you treat your teeth
Our patients typically see whitened teeth for around six months to two years if they use a whitening tray that is a good fit for their teeth. There is no one-size-fits-all for how long your teeth are going to stay white. And it also depends on how you treat your teeth. We also advise our patients at our downtown Toronto dental practice about the rebound effect.
What is the rebound effect? It’s when your teeth relapse slightly in shade. To combat this rebound effect, we recommend using the bleaching gel until you are happy with the results. But do not overdo it! We strongly advise that you use a custom tray so that the bleach of the gel stays on your teeth and doesn’t go into your gums.
The gel can be damaging to your gums so please be careful. It’s one of the several reasons that we recommend coming to our office when you are looking to whiten your teeth so you know what whitening procedures work for you and you can be fitted with a custom solution. Our downtown Toronto dentists will give you a custom whitening tray. If you experience any soft tissue irritation, please let us know. We can make sure that you know how to use your whitening tray at home.
Whitening your teeth does not erase any damage that you’ve done to them
The better you take care of your teeth, the better the results. The same can also be said for how you’ve treated your teeth in the past. If you’ve avoided discoloring your teeth in the past, the whiter your teeth will become from our treatments.
Also – you can overdo whitening your teeth. We repeat – you can overdo whitening your teeth. Over-whitening your teeth will give them a translucent or discolored look. This also can cause permanent damage to your teeth. If your teeth become permanently damaged, they will need to be replaced. Always remember that teeth aren’t just cosmetic.
How we feel about whitening toothpaste
Our patients who come into our downtown Toronto dentistry frequently ask about which whitening toothpaste to use and how much they should apply it. Remember, toothpaste can only take care of any extrinsic yellowing. If your teeth need intrinsic whitening, toothpaste won’t do anything to whiten your teeth. However, to achieve the cosmetic results of extrinsic whitening, whitening toothpaste is more abrasive.
While the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste can be effective at removing surface stains, it can cause sensitivity and lead to gum recession. So don’t use toothpaste that is specifically for whitening every day.
If you require an intrinsic whitening, how can you get a custom whitening tray?
Our downtown Toronto dentists can create a custom whitening tray for you. Once they have taken impressions of your teeth, the tray can be made based on your needs. When we squirt hydrogen peroxide gel into the custom trays, we place it into your mouth, covering your teeth. The tray keeps the whitening gel in place so that your gums are not exposed to the gel.
What’s great for you is that once these trays have been made you can use them repeatedly for as long as you need. You can just add peroxide gel to the trays and wear them overnight. It’s a cost-effective way to keep your teeth whitened and it’s especially affordable after the initial cost of getting the custom tray from our downtown Toronto dentists.
If you’re feeling self-conscious about the color of your teeth, come in and see us
We do not recommend that you pursue any home remedies until you get your teeth examined. What we’ll first do for you is determine whether your teeth yellowing is an intrinsic or an extrinsic issue. That will make sure that you are getting the correct treatment.
It’s always important to remember that while it’s great to have white teeth, whitening that sacrifices the health of your teeth should never be done. There is so much more to your teeth than the look of them. At our Downtown Toronto dentistry, we will make sure that you are on the right path to healthy whiteness. Healthy whiteness is a path that considers the long-term health of your teeth while still helping you get that smile you want. This is the path best traveled for you in the long-term and we feel it’s well worth it.