Teeth are not naturally completely white, and are normally light grey or yellow in colour, and this is perfectly healthy. Teeth naturally get darker with age. Their colour can be affected by the build up of surface stains caused by some foods, drinks, or other substances, from natural darkening of the dentin layer that lies under enamel, and from the wear of enamel itself. Many people are now interested in having a whiter smile for cosmetic purposes but having brighter teeth does not necessarily mean that teeth are healthier.
Healthy teeth characteristics
Healthy teeth are those that are looked after. You can have healthy teeth by brushing teeth and gums at least twice a day, using mouthwash and flossing teeth regularly, as well as having regular dental checkups. Making sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet is also important for healthy teeth.
Teeth whitening products.
There are two kinds of teeth whitening products: surface whiteners and bleaches.
Surface whiteners are better at removing surface stains on tooth enamel than regular toothpastes and mouthwash. Surface whitening products, such as special gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash, often contain abrasive materials that are smaller than those found in regular products. Therefore, they are more effective at removing surface stains.
Bleaches are often peroxide-based and unlike surface whiteners, can actually alter the colours of the tooth itself, not just the surface.
Different bleaching methods are used for bleaching living and non-living teeth. A non-living tooth is one that has had a root canal usually due to some type of trauma or tooth decay. Bleaching techniques used to whiten teeth may use a special bleach that reacts to light or heat, or a special bleach gel applied to teeth using a custom-fitted mouth guard.
Should I get my teeth bleached or use whitening products?
If you do choose to whiten your teeth using bleach products, be sure to discuss this with your dentist before starting. Newer ways to bleach teeth, particularly those using heat and lights have not been studied for long-term effects, so we simply do not know the potential oral health risks of using these procedures to whiten teeth. It is known that teeth bleaching, done in an office or with an at-home kit, can cause temporary tooth sensitivity or irritation.
Canadian Dental Association: Teeth Whitening
American Dental Association: Teeth Whitening