Tooth discoloration can be caused by many factors, including poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, and the foods and beverages we consume. Foods and beverages like coffee, tea, red wine, energy drinks, dark-colored berries, and any food with natural or artificial food colorings can all contribute to discoloration in the outer layers of the teeth. Foods and drinks that are high in acids temporarily soften tooth enamel so it’s easier for these stains to penetrate. Stains that develop in the superficial layers of teeth can be treated very successfully with professional teeth whitening treatments. Sometimes, discoloration occurs in the interior portion of the tooth as a result of infection, traumatic damage, certain diseases and long-term use of some medications, including some antibiotics. These deep discolorations need to be corrected with crowns, veneers or cosmetic bonding treatments.
In-office whitening uses professional-strength gel applied to the surfaces of the teeth. The gel penetrates the tooth surfaces for dramatic results in just one hour. During treatment, a special guard holds the lips away from the teeth to prevent the gel from being wiped away, so results are very consistent. The results of professional in-office whitening treatments last for about a year, and touch-up treatments using at-home professional whitening kits can prolong the results. Whitening treatments are usually performed following a cleaning to make sure the teeth surfaces are free of plaque and tartar.
Yes. Professional kits use custom-molded whitening trays designed to fit the patient’s mouth and tooth contours so the gel can penetrate better and reach all the tooth surfaces for results that are more consistent, plus the gel used in professional whitening treatments is stronger, so the effects are more dramatic.