My Teeth Are Stained. What Can I Do?
As a cosmetic dentist in DC, I see that many of my patients want a whiter and brighter smile. Some have experimented with different kinds of toothpaste and home bleaching kits available on the market today. A few even try to hide discolored or stained teeth by avoiding a smile. When these efforts fall short, they look for help.
What causes teeth to stain or become discolored?
There are various causes of tooth discoloration or staining. Certain foods, beverages, and medications may discolor teeth. Smoking and plaque may also cause staining. Some discolorations are the result of genetics or disease. Here are the most common tooth stains with some prevention and treatment options:
Surface stains occur in the outer layer of the tooth, primarily between teeth and on the surface of crooked or cracked teeth. Acidic or intensely colored foods and beverages such as red wine, tea, berries, cola and sports drinks are prime culprits. In addition, smoking and inadequate brushing and flossing to remove plaque can cause discoloration and tooth stains.
To minimize surface staining, limit your use of stain-causing beverages and foods. If you smoke, quit or cut back. Rinse your mouth with water after drinking wine, coffee or any of the other beverages that cause stains. Surface stains can usually be managed by regular professional cleanings and daily brushing and flossing.
Plaque build-up may require dental scaling and polishing. Some patients prefer to get enhanced teeth whitening with an in-office or professional home bleaching process.
Intrinsic stains are part of the tooth structure, where the dentin darkens, resulting in a yellow, brown or gray tint to the tooth. A common cause is the use of a medication such as a tetracycline. These stains can often be effectively treated with long-term bleaching.
What if the stains are too dark to bleach?
Sometimes the staining is too severe for the bleaching process. There are two attractive options for covering the stains. Bonding is the application of composite resin to the teeth, which makes them look whiter and, if needed, straighter. Porcelain veneers can be laminated to the surface of the teeth, also improving their color and shape. The veneers are longer lasting than composite resin because porcelain does not stain as easily.
Dr. Nishan Halim, Cosmetic Dentist in DC, will help you determine which of the treatment options are right for your discolored or stained teeth. He currently offers several home-use systems for teeth whitening in DC.
Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in a comprehensive approach to dental care in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. When treatment plans include specialty work, he coordinates every step with the practitioners you choose from his referral network. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment.