People have a common perception that teeth are meant to be perfectly white, but that often isn’t the case in real life. Even if you brush your teeth every day, there are a few reasons why your teeth might not be white.
Teeth Aren’t White to Begin With
To start with, the idea that teeth in their own right are perfectly white is a myth. Even if teeth were to never come in contact with a discoloring agent, they still would appear slightly off-white in their natural state.
The visible portion of teeth is comprised of dentin and enamel. Dentin is the hard and dense tissue that makes up most of a tooth’s structure, and it’s covered with enamel.
Both of these parts can make teeth appear discolored in real life. In a world where teeth never touched anything else, though, it’d be the dentin that would cause an off-white appearance.
Dentin is at least slightly colored in almost all cases, and it sometimes is significantly colored. The enamel that coats it is fairly transparent, so any coloration that occurs naturally in a person’s dentin will be visible when you look at their teeth.
If you personally happen to have dark dentin, no amount of basic surface whitener will make your teeth perfectly white because they’re slightly colored to begin with — and toothbrushing certainly won’t remove the color.
Teeth Are Often Stained
Furthermore, many people’s teeth become stained from items that people eat and drink, as well as other habits.
Smoking is an especially common cause of teeth staining, but it’s far from the only cause. Coffee, cola, berries, tomato sauce and wine all can stain teeth. Even tetracycline antibiotics and fluoride can cause stains at times.
Even if you brush every day, your teeth will likely become stained over time if you regularly consume items that cause stains.
Tooth Brushing Isn’t Meant to Whiten Teeth
Simply put, brushing your teeth isn’t intended to whiten them. Brushing twice a day (or more if recommended by a dentist) is essential, as it removes plaque and prevents cavities. The bristle action of a toothbrush won’t whiten teeth, though, and even whitening toothpastes can only have a limited effect on the surface of teeth.
OTC Teeth Whitening Treatments Might Offer Some Aid
Over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whitening treatments can offer some lightening benefits in certain situations, but these treatments are often extremely limited in what they can do.
Whitening strips, mouthwashes and toothpastes only contact the surface of tooth enamel. Therefore, they often can only get surface-level stains out. Embedded stains and colored dentin certainly won’t be removed with a treatment that’s readily available at the drugstore.
Additionally, many OTC teeth whitening treatments don’t apply evenly. If you use strips, for example, it’s extremely difficult to get a strip evenly applied to every forward-facing surface of your teeth. Edges near the gums and close to neighboring teeth are especially hard to completely cover with a treatment like this.
In-Office Dental Whitening Treatments Brighten Teeth
The most effective way to get whiter teeth is to have a professional dentist perform an in-office whitening treatment.
There are several treatments that a dentist may recommend depending on your teeth and desired appearance. For example, you might undergo an in-office bleaching, laser or heat treatment. Tray-based whitening systems that use custom-fitted trays are also often recommended. The plethora of options available to a cosmetic dentist frequently makes it possible to whiten teeth that have surface stains, embedded stains or other discoloration.
No matter what in-office treatment a dentist recommends, all of these options are known to be safe and provide long-lasting results.
Talk with a Dentist About Your Teeth
To learn more about whitening your teeth, schedule a consultation with one of the dentists at Triangle Dentistry Team. Our dentists know what whitening treatments are available, and they can recommend one that will work well for you.
Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3608.