The Best Way to Whiten Teeth Based on the Type of Stain

Teeth whitening depends on the stain

Tailoring Your Teeth Whitening to Your Type of Tooth Staining

There’s an old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in many cases, this is true. If you ask a large group of people to describe their ideal smile, you’ll likely end up with a lot of different ideas. It’s a simple but beautiful example of the diversity of our views about beauty. One feature that most of these ideal smiles will have in common, however, is being bright and white. Natural teeth stain over time due to a range of causes, which sees many people turning to their dentist for teeth whitening treatments to regain their beautifully white smiles.

If you’re considering getting teeth whitening, you’re likely starting to look into the different options out there—and, given how popular having a white smile is, there are plenty! But did you know that there are different types of stains and that some teeth whitening treatments are better at treating certain types of stains than others? We want you to regain the brightest smile possible, so we’ve put together a guide on the different types of tooth staining, what causes them, and which treatments are best for each.

Types of Stains

There are three main types of tooth stains. The type that you’re dealing with will impact how you should go about whitening your teeth.

1. Extrinsic Stains

The first type of stain is called an extrinsic stain, which is a stain located on the surface of your tooth. Extrinsic stains are most often yellow or brown, but they can also be orange, green, or black. Yellow stains are typically linked to a buildup of plaque from poor oral hygiene, while tobacco use of any kind tends to produce brown stains. There are a surprising number of foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, from tomato-based sauces and berries to coffee and wine. Being aware of this can help you protect your teeth from staining.

The less-common stain colors have rather unusual causes. Like yellow stains, orange and green discoloration are linked to poor oral hygiene, but the difference is the presence of a certain type of bacteria called chromogenic bacteria. In contrast, black stains, which generally appear as black lines along your gums, can be present even with great oral hygiene because they’re caused by iron in your saliva. The good news with extrinsic discoloration, however, is that since it’s on the surface, it’s usually relatively easy to treat!

2. Intrinsic Stains

In contrast, an intrinsic stain is a stain that’s located beneath the surface of your tooth. This type of stain has many potential causes, but the resulting stain can be white, brown, gray, or yellow, and there may even be color variation within the stain itself.

While fluoride is great for your teeth, especially as a child, getting too much of it can cause white spots or patches that stand out against the rest of your teeth. You can also get white or brown spots on your teeth from demineralization, which can happen at the beginning stages of decay, and receiving a certain type of antibiotic as a child can permanently stain your teeth gray. Additionally, suffering a dental injury when you’re young, especially if the tooth is still developing, can cause the injured tooth to develop a stain.

Intrinsic discoloration is harder to resolve than extrinsic discoloration, but it’s often possible with help from your dentist. And if you can’t fully remove an intrinsic stain, don’t worry! There are other options out there that can help you regain a naturally beautiful smile that you’ll love, and Dr. Enjati can help you find the best solution for you.

3. Age-Related Stains

The final type of staining is age-related discoloration, which tends to have a yellow color. Teeth naturally yellow over time as we age because the dental enamel starts to thin, allowing more of the underlying dentin, which is naturally yellow, to show through. At the same time, the yellow color of dentin darkens as you age, increasing the yellowing appearance of your teeth. Even though this staining is a natural part of growing older, you don’t have to settle for it. Teeth whitening treatments can help ensure that you love your smile no matter your age.

Teeth Whitening Methods  

Thankfully, modern dentistry has so many options when it comes to restoring your beautiful, naturally white smile! 

Extrinsic stains can often be whitened at home using teeth whitening toothpastes, strips, and gels. These methods can also be helpful for age-related stains by removing the additional layer of extrinsic staining that can contribute to the yellowed appearance of your teeth. 

Crest Whitening Emulsions is a whitening gel that’s particularly helpful if you have sensitive teeth, as it offers extensive whitening power over several treatments and causes little to no sensitivity. This sets it apart from many other teeth whitening treatments and makes it a great option for people who find other options cause an uncomfortable level of sensitivity. 

Whitening toothpaste also tends to be gentle, but offers a milder whitening effect over a longer period. It can still be helpful, however, and it’s particularly suited to keeping teeth whiter for longer after you’ve removed stains using other treatments.

Professional whitening treatments are incredibly helpful for all types of staining, but they’re especially useful for intrinsic stains. These treatments tend to involve stronger concentrations of whitening agents like hydrogen peroxide, allowing them to remove stains that over-the-counter options simply can’t. 

In-office whitening treatments are so effective that a single treatment can whiten your smile by multiple shades! These immediate, dramatically stunning results make in-office whitening treatments worth the visit to the dentist for many people—especially when it comes to removing tricky stains.

Home Remedies to Avoid  

In addition to all the over-the-counter treatment options for whitening your teeth, there are a host of home remedies. Unfortunately, not all these home remedies are a good idea. Some can actually be harmful to your teeth, so it’s important to know which methods to avoid. 

Prime examples of this are any methods that recommend whitening your teeth with acidic or abrasive ingredients, such as lemon juice or charcoal. These methods might show some initial improvement in the shade of your teeth, but they’re working because the acidity or abrasiveness of the materials in the mixture is eating away at your tooth enamel. 

This does mean removing extrinsic staining as well, but over time this enamel erosion will make your teeth more yellow, not less. It can also cause issues like tooth sensitivity and make you more vulnerable to cavities.

Oil pulling is another commonly cited tooth-whitening method that we simply don’t recommend. There’s no evidence that it whitens your teeth, so you’re simply better off investing your time and money in products that do have proven benefits. 

If you want to try home remedies for teeth whitening, make sure you research the safety of the method before you try it. If you’re not sure, you can always call our office to ask Dr. Enjati’s opinion and make sure the method you’re thinking of trying won’t harm your teeth!

Deciding the Right Treatment for You

Everyone’s treatment needs are different, but the type and severity of your staining can give you a good idea of what treatment may work best for you. If you’re not sure which treatment you should get, you can always schedule a consultation with Dr. Enjati. He can discuss your treatment options, goals, and even your budget with you to help you decide which method will be best for you.

While there are many ways your teeth can become stained over time, there are also many ways you can whiten your teeth, regaining the natural beauty and confidence of your smile. If you’d like to learn more about teeth whitening and cosmetic dentistry in Friendship Heights and the greater DC area, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Enjati at any time.