Teeth whitening is a popular way to try to make discolored teeth whiter, more attractive, and more youthful in appearance. However, not all tooth stains can be improved using teeth whitening. To understand whether teeth whitening is right for you, you have to understand that there are two main causes for discolored teeth: staining and tooth changes.

Most teeth become discolored because they are simply stained by dark compounds in foods, beverages, and tobacco smoke. Sometimes, it’s easy to see why foods stain your teeth. Red wine, berries, coffee, chocolate, and black tea are all visibly dark, so it makes sense that they would stain your teeth. However, apples and potatoes can also stain your teeth. Although these foods are initially light in color, they contain compounds that darken with exposure to oxygen, resulting in discolored teeth. These types of stains respond well to teeth whitening.

Another cause of discolored teeth is changes in the tooth itself. The most common change in your tooth is thinning of the enamel that naturally occurs with age. Foods, beverages, and attack by bacteria can result in thinning enamel, which causes your dentin–softer material inside the tooth that can be yellow, brown, or grey–to show through.

Other possible changes include chemical changes in the enamel, or the death of the tooth’s nerve, both of which can cause your tooth or teeth to become significantly discolored, either deep brown or black. These types of discoloration do not respond well to teeth whitening, and are better corrected with porcelain veneers.

If you live in Santa Monica or Pacific Palisades and want to have your tooth discoloration evaluated so you get the right teeth whitening solution, please contact Brightleaf Cosmetic & Holistic Dentistry today.