As the most common dental concern for patients of all ages, teeth stains can develop even when your teeth are otherwise healthy. Typically, stains can develop on the surface layers of your teeth—known as enamel—as plaque calcifies into tartar, or from years of exposure to food and beverages. Fortunately, teeth stains do not necessarily mean that your dental health is compromised, or that you require an extensive restorative treatment to erase them. In fact, most patients can enjoy brighter, stain-free smiles with simple, convenient teeth-whitening treatment. Most treatments involve a customized kit that allows patients to brighten their smiles at home, usually in as little as just two weeks.
Causes of Teeth Stains
Plaque, tartar, and exposure to food and beverages are the most frequent causes of common teeth stains. Other factors, however, can cause teeth to stain faster and more severely, such as tobacco and alcohol use, some medical conditions, and certain types of medications (i.e., tetracycline). For some patients, stains and discoloration may be the result of an underlying dental health condition, such as tooth decay or internal tooth damage. To address more serious tooth discoloration, your dentist will carefully diagnose the cause behind it, and then consult with you to determine an appropriate cosmetic or restorative treatment option.
For the most common types of teeth stains, professional teeth-whitening is the go-to cosmetic solution for brightening patients’ smiles. Teeth-whitening works by chemically breaking up stain deposits on your teeth’s surfaces while simultaneously oxidizing and brightening your teeth. Most treatments are developed as take-home kits that allow patients to apply the whitening gel to their teeth on their own time, when it’s most convenient. For patients in a rush, some dental offices may offer in-office treatments that can be completed in a single visit, usually in just over an hour.
For cases when teeth-whitening isn’t the right option, your dentist may recommend a more comprehensive treatment, such as tooth-bonding, porcelain veneers, or more.