Deeply pigmented foods and drinks are a well-known cause of tooth staining. Coffee, soda and red wine can all have this effect on your teeth, as can foods like berries and pasta sauce. It's no wonder 90 percent of orthodontic patients request tooth-whitening treatments, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
Wondering how to clean stained teeth? Your dentist can recommend one of the following:
Whitening toothpaste is an easy way to remove stains from your enamel at home. Some whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives like calcium carbonate and work by gently lifting bacteria from the surface of your teeth. Still, others contain bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which, although remove stains more quickly, can cause tooth sensitivity in some people.
Using whitening toothpaste is easy because all you need is to incorporate this item in an otherwise normal routine. Simply continue your regular routine of twice-daily tooth brushing, and a product such as Colgate® Enamel Health™ Whitening Toothpaste will do the rest for you.
Tooth Whitening Gel
Tooth-whitening gel is available both over-the-counter (OTC) and from your dentist. These gels contain peroxide-based bleaching agents that remove coffee stains and other discoloration in a different way to toothpaste, but in higher doses. To use tooth-whitening gel, you'll need a tray. OTC trays are available, but because they're not custom-fitted to your mouth, they may allow the gel to leak out and rub against your delicate gums – causing irritation. Those who are prone to sensitivity may want to visit their dentist to see if he or she can have custom-fitted tray made for them.
To use a whitening gel, you first need to brush your teeth, after which time you can apply the whitening gel directly to the tray and place the tray on top of your teeth. The tray holds the gel in place while the bleaching agents work to lighten your enamel. This tray is then left in place for a few hours during the day or overnight, depending on your dentist's directions and when you apply the material. Once the tray is removed, however, ensure that you remove any remaining gel with a toothbrush and rinse your mouth with water. After about two weeks of this routine, your teeth should be noticeably whiter.
Tooth Whitening Strips
Tooth-whitening strips are another OTC treatment you can use at home. Like whitening trays, these strips make use of a bleaching gel, though this gel is pre-applied to the strips to make them easier to use.
Applying these strips is almost as simple as a whitening toothpaste. Each treatment includes two strips – one for your top teeth and one for your bottom teeth. You'll apply each strip and then leave them in place for the amount of time recommended by the product. After roughly one week, you should start to see the results of your stain-removal efforts come about. Once these stains have been fully removed, the results can last for from six months to a year.
If you're unable to remove stubborn stains by yourself, don't worry; your dentist has access to more effective methods usable in the office. "Chairside" bleaching is typically the most effective way to clean discolored teeth, particularly intrinsic stains that rest beneath the enamel, and thus provides excellent results.
Your dentist will apply a special bleaching gel to your teeth, taking care to avoid your gums. There are many different types of in-office bleaching. The gel is much stronger than an at-home kit, so it stays on the teeth from 20 to 30 minutes for several different applications depending on the brand the dentist uses. The procedure works quickly, so it usually only needs to be repeated three times. This will depend on how severe your staining is and how quickly it responds to the bleaching gel.
Your dentist can advise you on which method of bleaching to use - so make an appointment to discuss this with him or her at your next visit.