To Whiten or Not to Whiten?

To Whiten or Not to Whiten?

Everywhere you look there’s an ad, commercial or billboard with this perfectly white smile that everyone wants.

The truth of the matter is that each individual has his or her own “smile color.” Tooth color is determined by a variety of factors such as the foods and drinks you ingest, habits you have, medications taken, genetics, advancing age and trauma.

Causes of discoloration

Coffee, tea, wine, colas and certain fruits/vegetables can contribute to staining. Bad habits such as tobacco use and poor oral hygiene lead to discoloration. Medications such as Tetraycycline and Docycyline are known to cause tooth discoloration when given to children whose teeth are still developing. Mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine can also stain teeth. Other medications that may cause tooth discoloration include antihistamines, antipsychotic drugs and drugs for high blood pressure.

As we age, the outer layer of enamel is worn away revealing the more yellow layer of dentin underneath. Certain types of trauma can also cause the teeth to become a darker grey-ish color. And let’s face it, some people have good genes working for them and have naturally brighter and thicker enamel.

Whitening products

There are many teeth whitening systems and products including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays and whitening products obtained from a dentist. Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth (no fillings) and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best.

However, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that if you choose to use a bleaching product, you should only do so after consulting with your dentist. A thorough oral examination is essential to determine if bleaching is appropriate.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Marshall Dentistry & Oral Surgery at 304-691-1247.


Andrea D. Hoke, DDS

Dr. Hoke is a practicing general dentist and former resident dentist with Marshall Dentistry & Oral Surgery.