Last week we covered the different types of tooth stains– where they come from, and how deep they go. It’s important to understand where your stains came from and how deep they go, if you’re hoping to remove tooth stains or discolorations. We’ll break down removal techniques by type and give you several options for removing stains.
Remove Extrinsic Tooth Stains
Extrinsic tooth stains are the easiest to remove. Similar to food particles left behind, the pigment is stuck in the sticky bio film that covers your teeth called plaque. Plaque naturally builds up on your teeth constantly and should be regularly removed with a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and dental floss. Regular toothbrushing should remove stains daily and prevent them from becoming dark enough for you to notice. However, if you’re beginning to see stains appear, especially around the edges of your teeth, there are a couple options for removing tooth stains.
Note: Almost all tooth whitening options have the potential to weaken your enamel. Weak or thin enamel can cause tooth sensitivity and make your teeth more prone to infection and decay. Consult with your dentist if you already have weak enamel, plan to use several tooth whitening methods, or use one for a prolonged period of time.
Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
This is a simple solution to try at home when you first begin to notice stains. Take food-grade baking soda, apply just enough water for it to clump together, and put it on your toothbrush. With gentle, circular strokes, apply it to the stained surfaces, or to all the visable surfaces of your teeth. Spit out any excess baking soda. Rinse your mouth with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, being careful not to swallow. Always rinse your mouth out with water afterwards. You can do this once a week for a few weeks as long as you are brushing gently. This is an abrasive solution and vigorous brushing or applying the treatment too often can wear down your enamel.
Whitening toothpaste often contains high-quality hydrogen peroxide. This hydrogen peroxide can break down complex particles. Complex particles absorb more light, making them appear darker. By breaking down complex particles, light if reflected rather than absorbed, making the surface of your teeth whiter. It’s best not to use whitening toothpaste every day because it can weaken your enamel. Use it once or twice a week for four weeks, then consult with your dentist if you are not getting the desired results.
Dental Cleaning and Polish
When plaque builds up on teeth, it becomes tartar. Tartar can cause unsightly yellow stains that can only be removed by a dental professional. If your teeth are looking dark, try scheduling a dental hygiene appointment to remove surface stains and tartar. This hygiene appointment will also include a polish that helps to remove stubborn stains or plaque. Keeping regular hygiene appointments can prevent stains from becoming set-in.
Remove Intrinsic Tooth Stains
If stains go below the surface of your tooth into your enamel, you’ll need professional help to remove them. Many dentists, including West One Family Dental offer tooth whitening trays. Your dentist will take a perfect impression of your specific mouth and create thin plastic trays to hug the surface of your teeth. Then, they will provide a prescription-grade hydrogen peroxide gel. As often as they prescribe, you will put a small dot of the gel on each tooth in the tray. Then you will place the tray in your mouth to allow the gel to soak into each tooth. Your dentist can evaluate your specific needs and advise how often and for how long you should use the trays to maximize whitening and prevent excessive sensitivity.
An even more powerful tooth whitening method is called power bleaching. This procedure is an in-office procedure administered by a dental professional. Your dentist will apply a powerful gel to your teeth and activate it with a special light. This achieves very quick and dramatic results in about 30-45 minutes. However, your dentist may choose to have you follow up this treatment with whitening trays as well.
Stains That are Permanent
Unfortunately, not all stains can be removed. Stains that form when the tooth is formed are usually permanent. When children, who are still forming their tooth enamel, consume excess fluoride and certain medications it leaves permanent stains on their teeth. Additionally, stains that are the result of a disease such as celiac disease or enamel hypoplasia are also permanent. If you are excessively self-conscious about these stains, discuss your cosmetic dental options with your dentist. Veneers or crowns can help give a bright, white smile to patients that have permanent stains on their teeth.