Dealing with discolored teeth can be overwhelming, especially if you have tried over the counter remedies and they just aren't effective enough. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to dealing with tooth stains. The following guide can help you determine whether whitening is even the right option to pursue.
What is causing the discoloration?
You must know the root cause of staining before you can combat it. If stains are caused by lifestyle choices, such as smoking or drinking lots of coffee or tea, then in-office professional whitening may be sufficient. This is especially true if you also commit to changing the behaviors that lead to the stains.
Not all stains are superficial, though. There are three common things that can cause permanent stains:
Fluorosis: This is the result of too much fluoride during tooth development. The brown or yellow stains are harmless but permanent.
Prescription medications: Some medication cause tooth discoloration. In some cases whitening can provide a temporary fix but the stains will return for as long as you are on the medication.
Thin enamel: Thin enamel allows the darker colored dentin to show through, which can make teeth appear yellow or brownish in color.
Can permanent discoloration be remedied?
Although whitening can't reverse permanent discoloration, you aren't tuck with the stains. A painless way to get a perfect smile is to have veneers installed. These thin slips of porcelain are placed over the front surface of each tooth, effectively hiding the stains. The veneers are custom made to fit your teeth, so they will feel just like your natural teeth. As an added benefit, veneers can also help reverse tooth sensitivity, which is often an issue if you have thin enamel since nerves within the dentin layer are closer to the surface.
Veneers are a permanent solution since the surface of the tooth will be ground down slightly to allow proper placement of the veneers. If your discoloration is due to a medication you only expect to take temporarily, it may be better to live with the stains in the short term unless you are willing to commit to veneers. The good news is veneers do not require any special care and they are as easy to maintain as your real teeth. If you don't mind committing the time and resources to having them installed, then you can have a white smile for the rest of your life.
Talk to your dentist for more information about tooth whitening and painless veneers.