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Is Your Smile Making You See Yellow? Teeth Whitening May be Able to Help

February 10, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — drwehrkamp @ 6:00 pm

woman with beautiful smileTeeth can turn yellow for many reasons. Some of the chief causes of this problem include tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and lack of regular oral hygiene. Teeth whitening may be able to help by removing built-up stains and restoring your smile to its former glory.

Why Teeth Turn Yellow

Most of us can recall a time when our teeth were sparkling white. Unfortunately, aging and other factors have a way of dulling our smile’s beauty, turning it yellow and making us feel self-conscious. Some of the key reasons this happens include:

  • Tobacco use. The tar and nicotine in cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc., casts a dull, discoloring yellow film over teeth.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol contributes to teeth yellowing in two ways: by eroding enamel and by interfering with its reformation. While an occasional drink is okay, over-imbibing can have serious consequences.
  • Acidic food or beverages. Tea, coffee, or spicy foods can wear away tooth enamel, exposing the yellowish pulp inside.
  • Medication side effects. For example, taking the antibiotics tetracycline or doxycycline at a young age can turn teeth a yellowish-brown color.
  • Hereditary factors. The reason for yellow teeth might be in your genes, especially if your parents or siblings struggle with the problem as well.
  • Teeth grinding. People who grind their teeth can damage the enamel exterior. Some people unknowingly grind their teeth while they’re asleep.

 As you can see, there are many potential causes for teeth yellowing. Your dentist has several options for treating this problem, including prescription whitening. The solution he or she recommends will depend on the condition of your teeth and your aesthetic goals.

How Professional Teeth Whitening Works

Prescription teeth whitening uses medical-grade bleaching gels, sometimes accompanied by focused light therapy.  A trained dental professional will apply the product while you relax in the dentist’s chair.

The whitening solution breaks apart stains at the molecular level. The process typically takes less than an hour, sometimes as little as 30 minutes.

 Dentist-prescribed teeth whitening differs from non-prescription products in two important ways. First, the products used are far stronger than over-the-counter versions. Second, the whitening process occurs under a dentist’s supervision. This is true whether you choose in-office treatment or a take-home kit to use in the privacy of your residence.

Whitening by itself may not correct all cases of yellowing teeth. Certain conditions may call for a more comprehensive approach, such as porcelain veneers. Patients suffering from problems like tooth decay, gum disease, or missing teeth may require restorative measures such as crowns, bridges, or implants.

Keeping your teeth looking their best after whitening is complete means following basic self-care steps like brushing with a soft bristle toothbrush, flossing daily, eating a nutritious diet, and avoiding tobacco and illicit drugs. You should also avoid alcohol or consume it only in moderate amounts.

All of us are fortunate to live in a time when modern dentistry offers so many effective treatment options. Talk to your dentist about your whitening options during your upcoming appointment. You’ll soon be on your way to a brighter, more beautiful smile.

About the Author

Dr. Scott Wehrkamp is a graduate of Loyola University School of Dentistry in Chicago and an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He has been practicing dentistry here in Brandon since 1981. You can reach his office online or by calling (605) 582-6522.

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