Extrinsic Staining and Whitening

Chromogens are the highly pigmented compound found in darker foods and beverages that stain teeth. Tannins are also found in foods and drinks that are staining and they make it easier for the chromogens to get in and do their worst on your enamel. If a drink is high in chromogens but low tannins(ie; coffee), it’s less likely to stain than a drink that’s high in both (ie; black tea).

To help minimize staining you can try to drink dark or acidic beverages through a straw,

swallow food and drinks fast instead of allowing it to sit in your mouth, and rinse with water after you’re through with your meals. You will also want to keep up on your flossing and see your dentist regularly for your cleaning and checkups. Smoking and tobacco can cause staining along with berries and juices, dark condiments, sweets, and dark beverages. A good rule to go by is if it will stain your carpet, or change your tongue colors, it will stain your teeth.

There are quite a few options to whiten the surface stains away.

  1. In office whitening is where you go into the dental office and they whiten your teeth often using some kind of LED light while you’re sitting in the chair. This procedure usually takes an hour and it’s the fastest and most dramatic results for most people.

  2. Then you can get take home strips or trays from your dentist. You will generally get molds made of your teeth and then some gel to take home with you to use. These give most people good results but it’s over a gradual amount of time based on the amount of staining, and how sensitive your teeth are.

  3. You can also buy whitening strips from the drugstore. These aren’t as strong as the kind you can get from your dentist so they don’t work for everyone, but they’re a very convenient and affordable option.

  4. The least effective way is to just rely on whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. These are only in contact with your teeth for a few minutes maximum as opposed to strips or trays which stay on your teeth for 30 minutes to a couple hours.

Keeping your teeth white is a lifelong battle without getting crowns or veneers. Even after you get your natural teeth to your brightest satisfaction, you will still have to do maintenance whitening to keep them that way.