Welcome back. This month at Hartwell Dentistry we will be talking about tooth whitening.

In today’s day and age whitening is becoming increasingly popular; everyone wants that perfect, sparkling smile. So to help you make an informed decision we will be answering some of those frequently asked questions when it comes to whitening your teeth.

Before we delve into the whitening process we must understand what causes discolouration of our teeth, and is there anything that we can do to help prevent our teeth becoming stained or discoloured.

The colour of our teeth may be affected in various ways, some we can prevent, and others are a bit more out of your control.

Factors may include:

Developmental Abnormalities

When we are developing as children there are some instances when the colour of your teeth may be altered;

  • Sickness or oral infection at an early age
  • Antibiotics
  • Lack of calcium, phosphate and other minerals and proteins, such as Fluorosis.

These abnormalities can also affect the strength and vitality of the tooth as well as its appearance.

An example of this is antibiotic staining which can complicate the whitening process due to the tooth being damaged superficially. In this case another form of whitening may be required i.e. internal whitening.

Trauma – nerve damage

If an adult tooth has become damaged due to some form of trauma, the underlying nerve may also be damaged. If this goes untreated or is not monitored closely the nerve can die. This can make the tooth go darker in appearance. Again in this case it will require internal whitening. Your dentist will advise you if this treatment is required as it is slightly more invasive that external whitening.

Dietary Stains

The most common way of discolouring our teeth is by what we eat, drink and other lifestyle habits. Coffee, tea, red wine, chocolate and cigarettes are a few ways of staining our teeth.

This type of discolouration is more easily treated.

Grinding, Abrasions and Erosion

Enamel is a strong layer and can withstand many forces. Overtime this layer can thin due to excessive force such as grinding, over brushing and even having an acidic diet. By damaging this layer of our teeth we begin to expose the second layer which is naturally darker in colour.

Now that we know what causes our teeth to discolour, in our next blog we will go through a few things to think about before whitening.