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Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness?

Dec 13, 2023
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Ever wonder why your teeth seem to lose their whiteness year after year? There are many different reasons why this happens. But the good news is there are ways to revive your pearly whites! Take a moment to find out more.

It can be frustrating to have a smile that seems to be fading in brightness, especially around the holiday season, with all the gatherings and greetings taking place. While it’s completely natural for your teeth to yellow over time, the toll it can take on your confidence is real. 

At Proud to Smile Dentistry in Bernardsville, New Jersey, Patricia Swaintek-Lamb, DMD, and our team want you to know that professional teeth whitening makes it possible to restore a whiter, brighter smile, no matter what your age — and we can have your pearly whites shining again in no time. 

We also want our patients to understand how and why teeth lose their whiteness, so they can keep their teeth whiter, longer. Here’s what you should know.

Understanding why teeth don’t stay white

Teeth become discolored over time. This type of discoloration is called dental “stains.” There are a few different types of stains, and it’s important to understand the differences between them. 

This is because while stains on the surface of your teeth can cause them to lose their whiteness, sometimes changes inside your tooth can be the culprit. There are even cases when both factors cause your teeth to dull and darken. Here’s a closer look:

Extrinsic stains

An extrinsic dental stain occurs when something external discolors or stains your tooth’s surface, contributing to the loss of whiteness. Common culprits include tobacco use, pigmented foods or beverages, and the buildup of plaque. 

Extrinsic dental stains can usually be reversed, either through regular dental cleanings or by using a toothpaste with whitening power when you brush. If you keep using the products that stain your teeth, or allow plaque to accumulate unchecked, the stains can come back.

Intrinsic stains

An intrinsic dental stain is caused by a change below your tooth’s surface. This can happen when the particles or pigments that cause extrinsic stains get into your tooth’s enamel. Other instances that cause intrinsic dental stains include excessive fluoride use, traumatic dental injury, and use of certain medications. 

Intrinsic dental stains can be hard to remove, and regular brushing and cleaning can’t always do the trick. Seeking professional treatment at Proud to Smile Dentistry can help, as we offer in-office tooth whitening, which is highly effective for extrinsic staining, as well as cosmetic solutions like veneers for irreversible intrinsic dental discoloration. 

Age-related stains

As you get older, whiteness fades as your teeth yellow naturally. Why? For starters, there’s an accumulative effect of staining over time. What’s more, your protective enamel gets thinner with age, allowing particles to get below the surface more easily and making underlying issues more visible. Lastly, the dentin layer inside your teeth, just below your enamel, darkens as you get older.

This means that age-related dental stains are both extrinsic and intrinsic. However, age-related dental stains usually respond well to both professional or at-home whitening treatments. You may be able to take decades off your smile simply by whitening your teeth.

Professional whitening with Opalescence

At Proud to Smile Dentistry, we perform in-office whitening treatments with a top-of-the-line, clinical grade whitening product called OpalescenceTM. This safe and effective whitening system features a chemically-activated whitening gel that gets behind your dental enamel to brighten your smile without the need for a special light. 

The treatment procedure 

When you come for your whitening treatment, Dr. Swaintek-Lamb prepares your mouth by covering your gums and tongue with a protective dam. Then she applies Opalescence BoostTM whitening gel to your teeth. 

The Opalescence whitening gel penetrates your dental enamel and triggers an oxidation process. This process oxidizes the discolored areas inside your teeth. As a result, stains lift away, your enamel gets lighter and brighter, and your natural dental whiteness is restored.  

The process takes about two hours, during which you can sit back and relax, listen to music, read, or watch television. Once the whitening process finishes, Dr. Swaintek-Lamb rinses your mouth and polishes your teeth. She also explains how best to maintain your results. 

The results

Your treatment may take only two hours, but results last up to three years. To maximize your results, Dr. Swaintek-Lamb recommends good dental habits, which include:

  • Brushing twice daily
  • Flossing regularly
  • Attending an oral exam every six months 

Drinking dark beverages with a straw and quitting tobacco use will also prolong your pearly whites. 

Schedule your whitening treatment today

If you want to know more about professional tooth whitening, we’ve got you covered! Book an appointment online or over the phone at Proud to Smile Dentistry in Bernardsville, New Jersey, today.