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Teeth Whitening: A Solution for Stained Teeth

A woman after teeth whitening treatment.

Stained, discolored teeth can shake your confidence and make you reluctant to smile. Unleash your smile and watch your confidence soar with great oral hygiene and the right dental care. Have you considered teeth whitening services to perfect your smile? At Lexington Family Smiles, we provide at-home and in-office teeth whitening services to clients in Lexington, SC, and the surrounding communities. This guide provides the information you need to begin your journey toward a whiter smile!

What’s the Difference Between Teeth Bleaching and Teeth Whitening?

Let’s start with one of the most frequently asked questions we get from our clients. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), teeth whitening restores the natural color of your teeth by obliterating stains on the surface. The cleaning agents used in whiteners are also found in some mouth rinses and toothpaste. Meanwhile, bleaching refers to making your teeth lighter than their natural shade. Ingredients used in bleaches include hydrogen peroxide and other bleaching agents.

What Are the Effects of Teeth Whitening on Tooth Enamel?

Yellow discoloration often indicates damaged enamel. When performed correctly, teeth whitening does not damage your enamel. Dentin makes up the majority of your teeth under the enamel and is naturally yellow and usually undetectable with the naked eye. During the teeth whitening process, you or your dentist coat the teeth with the whitening solution. The solution removes any stains bringing your teeth to their natural color. For some, their natural color is white, for others their natural color is gray, or a tint of yellow. The entire process takes about an hour.

If after the treatment your teeth are not the shade of white that you were hoping for, it doesn’t mean that the treatment didn’t work. It simply means that your natural shade is less than white. Don’t fret, there are still options, like dental veneers. But first, let’s talk about the different types of stains.

Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Stains

There are two main types of tooth stains, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic discoloration happens inside the tooth and extrinsic discoloration occurs on the surface of the tooth. Whereas extrinsic stains typically don’t represent a threat to your dental health, intrinsic discoloration may indicate underlying issues with your oral health.

Of the two, intrinsic stains are the most difficult to remove. However, with the right care, you can achieve noticeable results. We recommend in-office whitening solutions for intrinsic stains for the best results.

Causes of Teeth Stains

There are many factors that contribute to stained teeth. The most common causes of tooth discoloration include:

  • Food: Berries, black tea, soy sauce, red wines, colas, and curry can all discolor your teeth over time. Avoid acidic foods and foods that can worsen stains to achieve a brighter smile.
  • Tobacco: Cigars, cigarettes, pipes and chewing tobacco stain your teeth and contribute to oral dental health.
  • Fluoridated Water: Water treated with fluoride can leave brownish stains on your teeth.
  • Medications: Excess fluoride and tetracycline-related medicines can stain your teeth.
  • Other Factors: Tooth decay, trauma and the aging process also contribute to tooth discoloration.

Avoiding these factors can help you maintain your bright smile following teeth whitening treatment.

Treatment Options In-Home and In-Office

It’s important to discuss the pros and cons of in-home versus in-office teeth whitening treatments. Our dental team can help you determine which one would work best for your teeth.

Take Home Teeth Whitening

We can provide customized whitening trays for at-home teeth whitening. Typically, it takes about four weeks to see maximum results. Our dentist will provide trays that fit your teeth without irritating your gums.

At-home whitening kits purchased at our dental office are safer and more effective than over-the-counter alternatives.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

Dr. Michael Moulton can also apply bleaching agents in our office. This process uses a laser to make the process go faster. As a result, you can see significant results after a single session. Although in-office teeth whitening treatment uses stronger active agents, Dr, Moulton takes care to protect your gums and other tissues, making this the preferred option from an oral health standpoint.

Veneers as an Option for Irreversible Stains

Unfortunately, many years of smoking, drinking coffee, and eating foods that stain your teeth can take their toll. These habits can turn your teeth brown or yellow. In some cases, teeth whitening treatment won’t remove all the stains on your teeth. Also, if you continue the same habits after your treatment, the stains will return. If you have resistant stains that don’t respond well to teeth whitening treatment, dental veneers could be the best option to brighten your smile.

A woman getting veneers color matched.

Dental veneers fit over your natural teeth and protect them from further stains and damage. You may be a good candidate for dental veneers if you have strong, healthy teeth. Clients are often amazed by the drastic improvement achieved with dental veneers.

At Lexington Family Smiles, we can install porcelain veneers custom-made for your teeth. They look and feel like natural teeth but resist stains. Porcelain veneers last for years when you care for them properly. Continue brushing, flossing, and keeping up with your annual exams and cleanings for best results.

How White Can You Go?

Although you can achieve dramatic results from teeth whitening treatment, there’s a limit to how white you can go. At a certain point, the peroxide cannot whiten your teeth any further. So, leaving the solution on longer isn’t a good idea. It can break down the proteins on your enamel and leave you more vulnerable to future stains and other issues.

Most clients can achieve shades two to eight shades lighter than before the treatment. Even two or three shades lighter can have a dramatic impact on your smile.

Side Effects

Teeth whitening treatment can improve the appearance of your smile and encourage you to flash your teeth more often. However, you may wonder whether there are any side effects that could hurt your teeth. Oral irritation and tooth sensitivity are the most common side effects reported by clients. Typically, the effects are temporary and short-lived.

Lexington Family Smiles

At Lexington Family Smiles, we work hard to create an inviting atmosphere. From TVs in every treatment room to complimentary Wi-Fi everywhere in our office, we do all we can to make your wait time and appointment more pleasant.

If you become chilly in the treatment rooms, we can provide blankets and pillows. It’s important for you to feel relaxed during your dental treatment. There’s a refreshment stand where you can get a drink to elevate your mood and we serve warm cookies at checkout

Contact our office today to find out more about our teeth whitening services or to make an appointment!