Teeth whitening is a popular and conservative cosmetic treatment that lightens discolored teeth. Most whitening products contain peroxide, a highly studied chemical that has been shown to lighten teeth quickly and safely.
In-Office Options (Professional)
Professional, in-office teeth whitening treatments take about 30 minutes. They can make your teeth two-three shades lighter in one visit. These treatments are highly effective but can cost hundreds of dollars per session.
Common in-office whitening treatments include:
- 1-hour ZOOM
- Kor whitening
At-home options are less expensive than professional whitening treatments. They require more upkeep but are effective with proper, consistent use.
Common at-home whitening treatments include:
- Take-home trays and gels from a dentist
- Whitening strips
- Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash
- LED whitening kits
- Whitening pens
- Peroxide-free whitening options
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
There are two types of tooth discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic stains are superficial surface stains that you naturally pick up over time. These stains are commonly caused by dark-colored foods like coffee, tea, red wine, berries, and curry. Tobacco products can also cause extrinsic stains.
Intrinsic stains develop on the inner layer of teeth (dentin). These stains are more difficult to remove than shallow, extrinsic stains. Intrinsic discoloration is caused by natural aging, excessive fluoride exposure, and certain medications.
The primary causes of tooth discoloration include:
- Some cancer treatments
- Natural aging
- Amalgam (silver) dental restorations
- Certain medications, specifically tetracycline, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Dark-colored foods and drinks like coffee, tea, wine, and berries
- Excessive fluoride use
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