Elmhurst Dentist Explains Cosmetic Dentistry Options for Teeth Whitening

Written by Dr. Scharfenberg on Jun 25, 2012

Generally, when patients pursue cosmetic dentistry options, they are interested in making their smile look younger, and rejuvenated. No matter what the dental concern, teeth whitening treatments can be a fast and non-invasive way to achieve a sparkling smile. Today I’m going to review why teeth become stained and discolored. Then I’ll explain some of the teeth whitening and bleaching options that our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists often use to help patients achieve whiter, brighter smiles.

How does tooth enamel become stained?

Dental enamel can become stained or discolored for a number of different reasons. Some patients just naturally have a dark or yellow tint to their enamel—for these patients their “base color” of dental enamel may be darker than another patient’s natural shade of white. Additionally, a number of environmental and biological factors can discolor teeth, such as:

Staining foods—Dark or deeply colored foods can, over time, discolor tooth enamel. Some common examples of staining foods are berries, dark chocolate, and rich sauces.

Discoloring drinks—Beverages such as red wine, soda, coffee, and tea can stain teeth. These beverages are so common and frequently consumed that you may not notice the resulting discoloration until it has become severe. 

Tobacco—We all know that tobacco can cause serious health problems, including oral and lung cancer. Additionally, different types of tobacco—chewing tobacco, cigarettes, and cigars—dull dental enamel and discolor teeth.

Age—As patients age, their enamel thins and wears down. Consequently, the darker dentin, or inner part of the tooth—begins to show through the enamel, making teeth appear darker.

What can cosmetic dentists do to whiten teeth?

Different patients can benefit from different cosmetic dentistry options, depending on the extent of tooth discoloration and the desired cosmetic results.

Teeth whitening options—Teeth whitening options simply work to restore dental enamel to its natural or base shade. Toothpaste and mouthwash are types of teeth whitening treatments because they remove surface debris, but they do not bleach the enamel. 

Teeth bleaching—Teeth bleaching treatments utilize hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to whiten enamel beyond its natural shade. Effective “professional whitening treatments” are actually bleaching treatments. Some bleaching solutions are administered by a dentist in-office, while other formulations are suitable for at-home use.

Patients should consider their current dental health, desired cosmetic results, cost, and timeline when comparing teeth whitening and bleaching options. Our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists effectively address both environmental and biological tooth discoloration. You can get more information by giving us a call at (630) 733-1624.