Beyond Bleaching: How To Whiten Intrinsically Stained Teeth

Posted on: 22 September 2015


It can be very frustrating to see something working for other people yet have no effect on you. For tooth-whitening products, however, this is not unusual. And it also doesn't mean that there's nothing you can do about the color of your teeth – so don't give up!

Why Isn't Bleaching Working?

If you have stains on your teeth and bleaching isn't working, it's most likely because you have discoloration of your dentin. To understand what this means, it's important to understand the two outer layers of your teeth: enamel and dentin. Enamel is the outermost protective layer, and it is incredibly hard. It's also translucent, which means that the color of your dentin will show through your enamel.

The chemicals used in bleaching are applied to the surface of the tooth, which means they interact with your enamel, brightening the surface and removing stains. However, they can't affect your dentin at all. This means that any dentin discoloration – known as intrinsic discoloration – won't react at all to whitening products, whether at-home or in the dental office.

How Can You Prevent Dentin Discoloration?

The most common causes of dentin discoloration are certain medicines. However, it's not a good idea to avoid medication just because it might stain dentin. Children who take antibiotics, for instance, sometimes end up with stained dentin; the alternative, however, could be a dangerous infection. Antipsychotics, antihypertensives, and antihistamines can discolor dentin as well.

Luckily, it's not really necessary to prevent dentin discoloration. Preventing enamel staining can be useful because it means less frequent whitening – or perhaps not needing to whiten your teeth at all. Treating dentin discoloration, however, is not a repeating process like bleaching enamel, and once it's done, you don't have to worry about the discoloration at all.

What Is The Solution To Dentin Discoloration?

Unlike enamel staining, intrinsic discoloration isn't solved by whitening your dentin. Instead, it's solved by covering up your dentin so it's no longer visible. There are two main ways to do this: bonding and veneers.

Bonding means applying tooth-colored resin to your teeth; when it cures, the bonding hardens into a protective and attractive outer layer. In addition to discolored teeth, it's often used on teeth with minor chips or cracks or as a cosmetic procedure to close small gaps between teeth or change their shape.

Veneers are caps that are applied to your teeth, usually made of porcelain. While they are more expensive than bonding, porcelain is stronger than bonding resin and also better resists stains from food and drink. If money is an issue, it's worth noting that it's possible to get dental bonding and later have it replaced with veneers.

For more information, speak with professionals like Milan Simanek, D.D.S. & Associates.