Everyone wants to have teeth as white as the snow up at Loveland, but it’s hard to keep our teeth white. Things we eat and drink conspire to leave stains on the enamel of our teeth. And as we get older, our enamel thins allowing the dentin layer to show through a little more, giving our teeth a more yellow tint as the years pass.
Why do my teeth become stained?
Just as everyone’s skin tone is different, so too is the color of our teeth enamel. Some people also have enamel that is more porous, which makes it more prone to staining. The goal of teeth whitening is to remove the stains on the enamel and return your teeth to their natural whiteness, which is far whiter than you realize.
There is another type of staining that affects our teeth, but it happens in the dentin layer, the layer beneath the enamel. These stains are the result of drug reactions to tetracycline and fluoride, or they can be caused by trauma to a tooth. The result is a grey color to these teeth. Teeth whitening has historically had little effect on these grey interior stains, but we now off a couple of options with our KöR Whitening System that can whiten these teeth a remarkable amount, although this varies by the patient and the extent of the interior staining.
Here are the main reasons our teeth become stained:
- Food — Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, even dark chocolate have natural pigments in them that can stain the enamel of your teeth.
- Drink — Coffee, tea, red wine, cranberry and other dark juices, even cola soft drinks all can stain your teeth.
- Smoking — Nicotine leaves yellow stains on your teeth.
- Fluorosis — If a child has too much fluoride, it can cause this condition, which stains the teeth. This staining is in the dentin.
- Drugs — In the 60s and 70s tetracycline was a heavily used antibiotic, especially in children. Unfortunately, in many kids it permanently discolored their teeth.
- Genes — The enamel on some people’s teeth is darker than others. Also some people have enamel that is more porous and stains easier.
- Aging — As our enamel thins with age and wear, the dentin layer shows through more and more and this makes our teeth increasingly yellow.
How does teeth whitening work?
Cosmetic teeth whitening treatments mainly work on the stains that build up on our enamel (although progress is being made on interior dentin staining, too). If you drink coffee every morning or a glass of red wine at night, the pigments in these drinks penetrate the enamel. Most of this washes away with our saliva, but tiny amounts can remain in the enamel. Over time, these stains accumulate and make our teeth dingy, dull, and far from their original white.
Teeth whitening agents, usually hydrogen peroxide-based, remove stains in the enamel in a similar way to how detergent removes stains on clothing. The peroxide penetrates the enamel, as the staining item did, and there it breaks down the stains, which are then washed away. Teeth whitening can whiten teeth from three to 10 shades and will return your teeth very close to their natural, bright white color.
What about stains in the dentin?
Our KöR Whitening System can make real improvements in these deeply stained teeth. But, as mentioned above, the results can vary due to the extent of staining and the individual patient. If you are not satisfied with the degree of whitening achieved with dentin staining, Dr. Gill or Dr. Kenson can place porcelain veneers over these permanently stained teeth.
What’s the difference between in-office and at-home whitening?
We offer both in-office and at-home teeth whitening. The difference is the speed of the treatment. With our two in-office whitening options, Zoom! and KöR, the process of whitening your teeth up to 10 shades takes just about one hour.
The KöR at-home program involves wearing the program’s custom trays for 14 consecutive nights. For maintenance, it advises wearing the trays one night per month. Zoom! at-home maintenance whitening takes about one-half hour a day for varied periods.
Both our in-office and at-home whitening options arrive at basically the same final degree of whitening.
What teeth whitening products do you offer?
KöR Whitening System
We offer the KöR Whitening System, which can be done in-office with at-home maintenance, or it can be a completely at-home treatment. The KöR system is widely recognized as the world’s most effective teeth whitening system. Their quality control is such that they are the only whitening company to use continuous refrigeration of their whitening gels from manufacturing until they arrive cold-packed in our Golden offices. This ensures the whitening gels maintain their full strength.
The KöR Whitening System works by restoring your teeth’s ability to absorb oxygen. This is a hallmark of young teeth, as they are developing. As the hydrogen peroxide gel breaks down when applied to the teeth, oxygen and other bleaching byproducts are absorbed deeply into the teeth, dissolving and removing stain molecules. The KöR Whitening System also incorporates a desensitizer into both its in-office and at-home treatments. This eliminates the problem of tooth sensitivity that can be an after-effect of whitening.
These are the KöR treatments Dr. Gill and Dr. Kenson offer:
KöR Max is a super-efficient whitening system that combines at-home whitening with a single in-office whitening treatment. This is the best option for a typical patient.
KöR Ultra is an in-office treatment that dramatically improves staining that is a result of fluorosis and geriatric staining.
Ultra-T is specifically developed to whiten tetracycline-stained teeth. These stains have always been outside the limits of teeth whitening, but the KöR Ultra-T system can make a remarkable improvement.
KöR At-Home Whitening
The KöR system has an at-home option. This can be used as a full whitening program, plus it’s an important part of keeping your KöR in-office whitened teeth bright for years to come.
Zoom! Whitening System
Zoom! is our other whitening system. Zoom! is an in-office treatment that begins with a cleaning of your teeth and gums. Then we place a protective barrier over your lips and gums to avoid contact with the whitening agent. Next, we paint the hydrogen peroxide whitening gel onto your teeth, and we activate the gel with a special light. The gel is left on the teeth for 15 minutes and is then removed. This process is repeated three or four times. After the gel is removed for the last time, we apply a sensitivity-reducing fluoride paste/gel to your teeth.
Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products
Various over-the-counter products, such as whitening toothpaste and bleaching strips, are advertised as being effective teeth-whiteners. These products are based on the same science as professional bleaching, however, the concentration of effective ingredients are much lower. Because of this, the treatments take much longer to whiten your teeth and often do not provide the level of whitening desired.
Will the results of my teeth whitening be permanent?
Just as your teeth became stained before, so they will again. However, both our KöR and Zoom! whitening systems provide home maintenance to keep your teeth bright white for a long time. The maintenance varies (we’ll discuss how each works with you prior to deciding on which treatment to use).
Are there tips for keeping my teeth white?
That’s another benefit of the KöR Whitening System — you won’t instantly start staining your teeth again as soon as you have a cup of coffee, glass of red vine, or a bowl of raspberries. Because the KöR system restores the ability of the teeth to absorb bleaching factors, simple periodic home maintenance counteracts these daily staining foods and beverages.
But, if you want to really try and keep your teeth from staining, you need to avoid coffee, tea, red wine, cola drinks, dark berries, and even chocolate. But what’s the fun in that?