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When Teeth Whitening Stops Working

Teeth whitening is an effective way to get rid of stains on your teeth from many different sources. But it does have many limitations, including the fact that it doesn’t help with many common causes of tooth discoloration that can worsen as we get older. This means that although teeth whitening might work for a number of years, it may be less and less effective, and eventually might stop giving you acceptable results.

What Teeth Whitening Works on

when Teeth Whitening Doesn't WorkTeeth whitening is very effective at many common causes of staining, such as:

  • Eating staining foods such as berries or chocolate
  • Drinking staining beverages like coffee, tea, or red wine
  • Smoking

Teeth whitening uses a chemical called hydrogen peroxide to break down and eliminate the dark-colored molecules that get trapped in your dental enamel. Because foods, beverages, and smoking all stain because of the organic molecules they contain, hydrogen peroxide is very effective at eliminating them. But other causes of staining are not affected.

Causes of Staining that Teeth Whitening Can’t Fix

There are many causes of tooth discoloration that aren’t affected by teeth whitening. These include:

  • Imperfections in the tooth enamel
  • Staining from certain antibiotics
  • Discoloration due to tooth trauma
  • Tooth decay or infection
  • Discoloration caused by metal amalgam fillings
  • Discoloration due to thin enamel

In particular, the last cause of discoloration tends to increase with age. As we expose our teeth to acidic substances like soda and wear them down with natural chewing processes, our teeth can begin to look discolored. That’s because the tooth layer underneath the enamel, the dentin, is yellowish, brown, or even gray, and it can show through more as the enamel on teeth wears away.

Beyond Teeth Whitening

The good news is that cosmetic dentistry has ways to whiten teeth that are discolored because of thin enamel. Porcelain veneers can cover up your discolored teeth, giving you a white smile, no matter what your age. This smile can be as white you want–it isn’t limited by the whiteness of your tooth enamel. And it lasts for years, not months like teeth whitening, because it’s resistant to staining.

To learn more about what you can do if teeth whitening isn’t working like it used to, please call  for an appointment with a Columbus cosmetic dentist at the Center for Family & Cosmetic Dentistry..