Tooth Decay – Are You at Risk?

There is power in knowledge and prevention when it comes to our dental health. Sadly, we never think about our teeth until we experience some pain or discomfort. Because there is a lot of confusion about the root causes of tooth decay, this prevents many from seeking treatment until it is too late. Our Dental Clinic in St. Catharines can help you with your tooth care.

Tooth decay begins when chewing traps food materials in-between your teeth. These materials form a sticky layer of plaque around your teeth that contains bacteria. This bacteria converts starch and sugar into acids causing your teeth enamel to erode. This then leads to complete teeth decay and soon, you will have no choice but to visit a dentist.

People at Risk

Plaque on your teeth can also cause other dental conditions such as gingivitis. You can prevent these conditions with daily care at home by proper brushing and flossing and by visiting a dentist regularly. Complications can occur from those who are more at risk of developing dental diseases. This includes those suffering from rheumatic fever, diabetes, dry mouth conditions, renal failure and obesity. It is advisable for this vulnerable group to seek dental care more frequently than they normally would to prevent the development of any dental disease or condition.

The Cost of Dental Care

As you know, receiving dental care can be costly depending on the customers needs. At Pine Street Dental, we offer affordable prices and a comprehensive payment plan that reflects your financial situation.

We understand going to the dentist can be a challenge. Pine Street Dental provides a comfortable environment for those who experience discomfort such as children and those who fear pain while undergoing dental treatments. We always want you feel at home when you visit us.

Regular visits to a dental clinic is important for you and your family and will help prevent dental diseases and conditions in the future. Healthy teeth builds confidence and is good for your overall heath. Here’s the best part about having regular trips to a dentist-a brighter smile!

Call Pine Street Dental today and book an appointment. We are always ready and willing to help you with all your dentistry needs.

Could You Benefit from a Mouth Guard?

Mouth guards or mouth protectors are your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your teeth while participating in sports. These fitted devices are worn over your teeth during athletic and recreational activities to protect them from damage. When choosing a device, it’s important that the mouth guard you choose is flexible enough so it is a good fit in your mouth. Mouth guards work to buffer damage to the teeth, braces, and other fixed dental appliances from blows and physical contact. These mouth guards can also act as a barrier between teeth, braces, and the cheeks, between the lips and tongue, thereby limiting the risk of soft tissue damage.

A good mouth guard should:

  • allow you to speak and not limit you’re breathing.
  • stay in place comfortably during activity.
  • be durable and easy to clean.
  • be resilient, tear-resistant, oader-less and be tasteless.
When should you wear a mouth guard

Mouth guards are not always mandatory for amateur or professional athletes. Even though you are not obligated to wear a mouth guard, they are definitely recommended. Many athletes choose not to wear them due to improper fit, impaired speech, impaired breathing, forgetfulness, cost and many perceive mouth guards as a hassle and unattractive.

Most sports associations require mouth guards for hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, and football because they are considered a rougher sport. However, many Dental Associations always recommend mouth guards for more sports and activities that run risk of mouth injury. These include: acrobatics, basketball, boxing, discus throwing, gymnastics, handball, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling. 

The advantages to wearing a mouth guard

Wearing a mouth guard is an important habit to keep for athletes of all ages and abilities. A mouth guard needs to perform many duties to help avoid chipped or broken teeth, root and bone damage, and tooth loss. They also safeguard against serious injuries such as jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhaging, concussions and neck injuries. Mouth guards can also help prevent cutting and bruising of the lips, tongue and cheeks, especially for athletes who wear orthodontic appliances.

Types of mouth guards

You have your choice of three different types of mouth guards:

  • Stock mouth guards – These all purpose mouth guards can be purchased at any sporting goods store and pharmacy. They are pre-formed and designed to be ready to wear. They are the least expensive – but keep in mind they are also the worst fitting, least comfortable and least protective. They are made of rubber or polyvinyl and tend to be bulky which increases the chance of gagging, impaired breathing, and impaired speech because they require the jaw to be closed to hold them in place.
  • Mouth-formed mouth guards – These come in two type of mouth guards: The first type is made of thermoplastic that is placed in boiling then formed to the contours of the teeth using the fingers, lips, tongue and biting pressure. Boil-and-bite mouth guards can be reheated and refitted if the original fit isn’t comfortable. The other is a type is lined with acrylic gel or rubber that creates a mold of the teeth and sets to keep its shape. 
    These type of mouth guards are available at sporting goods stores and pharmacies. Keep in mind that they do provide a better fit than stock mouth guards, however, they can be still by bulky and do not offer the same fit and protection as a custom-fitted mouth guard.
  • Custom-fitted mouth guards – These custom mouth guards will be expensive but they provide the greatest degree of fit, comfort and protection because they are made from a precise cast of your teeth. While being fitted for one, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and send it to a dental laboratory technician. From there, they will take this impression to create a mold for your custom-fitted mouth guard.
    When you have a custom-fitted mouth guards, you can rest assure that all your teeth will be cushioned against falls and blows to the chin. If you are concerned about allergies, certain materials can be used to avoid reactions in your mouth.
Cost

The average stock mouth guards can typically cost from $5 to $15. Mouth-formed guards are priced at approximately $10 to $30. Custom-fitted mouth guards cost between $25 and $100 and are available from Pine Street Dental in Thorold. Most dental insurance plans generally do not cover the cost of mouth guards. Check with your dental insurance company to determine your level of coverage. Either way, a mouth guard is a good investment in your oral health.

Mouth Guard Maintenance 

It’s important to maintain, clean and care for your mouth guard to prevent infection and germs. How long a mouth guard lasts depends on its construction and use. Stock and mouth-formed guards typically wear out after several months of repeated hard use. Custom-fitted guards generally last a year or more. Always check the condition of the mouth guard before each use, especially if you have a tendency to chew on it. It is a good idea to bring your mouth guard with you to your regular dental examinations for periodic evaluations. For the best results from your mouth guard:

  • Always brush and floss your teeth before wearing.
  • Avoid putting your mouth guard with sports clothes and towels in a sports bag. Keep it in a protective case.
  • Avoid chewing your mouth guard because this can distort the shape of it causing an improper fit.
  • After each use, wash your mouth guard with soap and cool water so the shape stays intact. Then soak your mouth guard in mouthwash before storing it.
  • It is best to keep your mouth guard in a well ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use.
  • Avoid bending your mouth guard.
  • Avoid heat around your mouth guard such as sunlight, near a heater or in a hot car.
  • Never wear someone else’s mouth guard and never share your own.
  • Always get your dentist to adjust your custom fitted mouth guard.

Call your dentist if you experience any of the following health warning signs of wearing a mouth guard: difficulty breathing, hives, rashes, mouth sores, itching in the mouth, wheezing, diarrhea and nausea to the point of vomiting.

What are Dental Veneers?

Often when we think of veneer, furniture comes to mind. Like a decorative finish, it’s a covering but for your teeth. Dental veneers are sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates. These wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-coloured materials are designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve its appearance. This bonded shell changes the colour, shape, size, or length of your teeth.

Why do we need dental veneers?

Veneers are an alternative to crowns that provide a subtle approach to changing a tooth’s colour, size or shape. The purpose of getting veneers is to mask tooth defects, stains, and tooth damage from an injury or from a root-canal. Over time, fillings may discolour and require a veneer to bring a tooth back to its natural shade. Other reasons to consider veneers would be gaps in the teeth, chipped teeth or worn teeth. Veneers are designed to last for many years and have been proven to have a longevity of wear when professionally added to your teeth.

The veneer procedure

To have veneers put on your teeth requires little or no anesthesia. This is good news since it is an ideal choice for brightening your teeth and to improve your smile.

This procedure can be done is a series of appointments which include a diagnosis, treatment planning, preparation and bonding. During your dental consultations, you can take an active role in the design and planning of your new smile.

Composite resin veneers can be done in one appointment. The first step involves the teeth being lightly buffed to make up for the added thickness of the veneer. Typically it’s half a millimetre of the tooth that is removed and this could require a local anesthetic to keep everything comfortable. After the tooth is prepared, the dentist carefully bonds and sculpts the composite material onto the teeth.

Ceramic veneers can take several days to prepare. A mold is taken of the teeth, which is sent a laboratory for the fabrication of the veneers. When your ceramic veneers are ready, the dentist will place each veneer on the tooth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or colour. While the veneers are resting on your teeth is a good time to make any adjustments to colour and fit. After they are cemented to the teeth, the colour cannot be changed. Once the dentist is given the go ahead, the teeth are cleaned so the special cement can sandwich between the veneer and tooth easily.

How to take care of veneers

There will a small adjustment period after getting veneers due to the teeth changing in shape and size. This unnatural feeling will eventually pass by getting back into your normal routine that includes brushing and flossing daily. After two weeks, it’s good to have a follow-up appointment to make sure everything is progressing well and to address any concerns you have with your dentist.

Veneers are designed to help improve the appearance of your teeth, however, they are not perfect replacements. Like our natural teeth, there will be slight variations in the colour of veneers upon close inspection. The ultimate goal here is to enhance the appearance of your teeth and boost self-esteem because no one should hide their smile!

Why You Should Replace Missing Teeth

The average adult mouth is designed to house an amazing 32 teeth in total. It makes sense that losing essential teeth will eventually alter the appearance and function of the jaw and face.

When you lose teeth, you not only lose the ability to chew, but the resulting space puts stress on the entire mouth and jaw. To keep your mouth operating efficiently it is best to keep as many teeth as you can. Certain foods can make eating difficult. It is estimated that for each missing tooth, you lose approximately 10% of your remaining ability to chew food.

Reasons for losing teeth

Wisdom teeth are commonly removed when we are young adults. Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that come in during our late teens or early twenties. These teeth can be left in the mouth when they come in healthy and properly aligned. When they start causing issues, such as infection or pressure on the jaw, they should be removed. When these teeth become impacted or partially erupted, the wisdom teeth can allow bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness.

Other reasons to have teeth removed are damaged teeth due to decay or a mouth injury. There are also cosmetic reasons to remove teeth for braces because the needed extra space helps teeth to gradually move and be straightened allowing for a better smile.

Losing essential teeth can affect the look and function of your smile. Even losing one tooth can alter the function of your bite and can cause the following issues:

• Bone loss

When you have a tooth removed, the bone that supports the teeth tends to shrink over time. This is a process called resorption. This is a natural consequence that the alveolar bone (which is designed to support the teeth) begins to lose both height and width.

• Misalignment

When you lose more than one or two teeth, this can lead to drifting of neighbouring teeth. This movement shifts the adjacent teeth to eventually lean over into the vacant space where the teeth have been lost. Similarly, loss of a tooth or teeth can lead to shifting of opposing teeth as they drift down into the open space which is called a super-erupt. 

Our teeth have a constant tendency to move both towards the front of our mouths and towards the opposing jaw, unless they are stopped by something in their way – usually the adjacent or opposing teeth. Loss of teeth creates discrepancies in the height and contours of the gum tissue that predispose adjacent teeth. This can cause periodontal disease progression to dental decay from an accumulation of food and plaque. Drifting teeth can also adversely affect your bite resulting in a change in your facial structure around your mouth which can affect your smile.

• Tooth decay and gum disease

When you have teeth removed, bacteria can find many more places to develop. These hard to reach areas increases your risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Dental implants can restore the original function of your smile combined with proper oral hygiene is one of the best ways to avoid more serious oral health issues.

Tooth replacement options

• A fixed bridge

Your teeth can be replaced with a fixed bridge if there are healthy and strong enough teeth to support the artificial teeth. In order to fabricate a bridge, the adjacent teeth are prepared by reducing their size to remove all the enamel, making room for the prosthetic tooth restoration. Prosthetic teeth can be suspended between adjacent teeth to provide a functional and cosmetic replacement for the missing tooth.

• Dentures

Removable partial or full dentures can replace a single missing tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth in your upper and/or lower jaw. Dentures rely on support by the other teeth in that jaw for partial dentures and from mechanical support by the remaining ridge of gum and underlying bone. Maxillary full dentures on the upper jaw also may be helped by suction between the denture and the underlying gum of the roof of the mouth. Removable dentures take time to adjust to and can interfere with speech. Over time, this awkward feeling will pass as the mouth accommodates these new teeth.

If you have missing teeth and are looking to restore your smile with beautiful results, we can help. At Pine Street Dental, we can discuss affordable solutions to replace your missing teeth. Give our Thorold Dental Office a call today!

5 Worst Foods for your Teeth

Certain foods can be very bad for your teeth. Some on this list are obvious and some on the list might surprise you. Although these foods can wreak havoc on the health and look of your teeth, you can treat yourself from time to time. Eating them in moderation and following up with brushing and flossing immediately afterwards will greatly help the health of your teeth.

1. Hard candy

Hard candy is the worst customer on the list. Hard candy is full of sugar that takes some time to dissolve in the mouth. This sugar sticks to your teeth and can cause damage to your enamel. This type of candy alters your teeth by allowing bacteria to produce damaging acid. Sadly many people chew hard candy, which can result in cracked and broken teeth.

2. Chewy candy or fruit

Dried fruit is surprisingly very sticky and full of sugar. All that sugar gets stuck between teeth and stays there for hours if not cleaned. This can cause dental erosion. Sticky chewy candy such as gummy bears also stick to your teeth and coat your teeth in sugar. Bacteria will form acid from that nasty sugar that can attack the protective tooth enamel.

3. Citrus & acidic foods

Pickled food comes with acid from vinegar that can wear away at the enamel of your teeth. Once this happens it weakens the teeth and causes unwanted staining. Citrus fruits are part of a well-balanced diet, however sucking on limes, lemons and oranges can wear tooth enamel away. Constant exposure to citric acid leaves teeth susceptible to cavities.

4. Sodas & fruit juices

Drinking anything laced in sugar can eventually lead to cavities and tooth erosion. Surprisingly, so does diet pop. Sugar-free diet soda is not off the hook because it contains citric and phosphoric acid that can erode the enamel when consumed regularly. Acidic fruit juices raise the level of acid in your mouth and over time can also eat away at your tooth enamel. Fruit juices, like orange, lemon/lime or cranberry can be just as acidic as vinegar and can wear down the tooth enamel leading to cavities and sensitive teeth.

5. Acidic drinks

Red and white wines contain erosive acid that can soften valuable enamel within five minutes of exposure. These compounds found in red wine called tannins can dry out the mouth and stain the teeth. Many of us are caffeine addicted and cannot function without our regular cup of joe. Both coffee and tea will stain your teeth and the darker the liquid the darker the stain. You may think tea is gentler than coffee, but that’s not always the case. Some black teas may stain your teeth more than coffee. Similar to red wine, black teas have a high tannin content which causes staining.

8 Best Foods and Drink for your Teeth

Fiber rich fruits and vegetables

High-fiber foods work like a detergent in the mouth by physically “scrubbing” the teeth, and stimulating saliva flow. This increase in saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense because it neutralizes tooth-damaging acids. Foods containing calcium and phosphates help rebuild minerals leached away by bacterial acids. Try fruits and vegetables with a high water content (like apples, carrots and celery) to clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath. Foods that are high in vitamin C help prevent gum disease and gingivitis while killing odor-causing bacteria.

Water

It should not be any surprise that this would be on the list. Water is indispensable when it comes to our oral health, but it’s often replaced with sugary drinks and coffee. Since we’re made mostly of water and it’s the primary component of saliva, it’s definitely one of the most important things you can drink for both your teeth and gum health.

Dairy products

Milk, cheese, and yogurt help neutralize the acid produced by plaque bacteria. It’s not just your bones that benefit from milk; your teeth get stronger and healthier from all that calcium too. Calcium helps protect your teeth against gum disease and keeps your jaw bone strong and healthy. Since women are more likely to get periodontal disease if they don’t absorb enough calcium from their daily diet, it’s especially important for them to eat and drink plenty of calcium–rich foods. Dairy products like cheese contain casein, a type of protein. Research suggests that casein, along with calcium, plays an important role in stabilizing and repairing tooth enamel.

Sugarless gum

How did this get on the list? Surprisingly, chewing sugarless gum after meals and snacks can help rinse harmful acid off your teeth to help you preserve tooth enamel. It helps prevent bad breath and as an added bonus, it won’t stick to braces and dental work.

Green & black teas

We found another winner in the battle against plaque. Green and black teas contain compounds called polyphenols that interact with plaque and helps remove harmful bacteria. Drinking these types of tea reduces inflammation and reduces the chances of gum disease.

Nuts

Your teeth need food with vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Peanuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts contain calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium, and zinc. Nuts make a great snack that also help you keep your teeth clean too.

Food rich in vitamins A, C, and D

Try eating more beef, eggs, fish, potatoes, spinach, fortified cereals, tofu, leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains and poultry. As you can see, your teeth need a well-balanced diet to remain healthy and strong.

Strawberries

Strawberries contain an enzyme called malic acid, which can be found in some whitening toothpaste. As an added bonus, the fiber in strawberries also behaves as a natural cleaner by removing bacteria from the teeth and mouth.

How Safe are Dental X-rays?

With today’s new technology, we can now get X-rays done digitally. This can cut down on radiation exposure by as much as 90 percent by switching from film to digital. So this is good news. But should we still be worried?

In some cases, this worry is legitimate. If you are pregnant or if your dentist requests an x-ray of your child’s mouth, special care needs to be taken. If you are concerned about radiation exposure due to X-rays, talk to your dentist. Ask how often X-rays are needed and why they are being taken. While in some cases, some patients need X-rays taken more frequently, current guidelines require that X-rays be given only when needed for clinical diagnosis.

Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to a number of measures that will minimize the risks associated with X-rays. However, even with the advancements in safety, the effects of radiation will accumulate over a lifetime.

What are the purposes of x-rays

X-rays, also known as radiographs, are a necessary part of good dental care. Since dentists can see only about one-third of the actual tooth, radiographs provide valuable information that we cannot visualize otherwise.

  • They locate cavities, potential cavities, and decay.
  • X-rays give a clear look at tooth roots.
  • An x-ray can give the dentist a status of developing teeth.
  • It can show the progress of braces.

X-rays are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping a dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in a patient’s mouth before they become a major problem. An x-ray is a type of energy that passes through soft tissues and is absorbed by the dense tissue. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb X-rays while X-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks.

Types of x-rays

X-rays are divided into two main types: intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral is an X-ray that is taken inside the mouth. An extraoral X-ray is taken outside of the mouth. Intraoral X-rays are the most common type of radiograph taken in dentistry. They give a high level of detail of the tooth, bone and supporting tissues of the mouth.

Here’s a x-ray checklist to consider:

  • Space out your routine x-rays. If you have no ongoing dental problems, scans every two years, or more, are sufficient.
  • If you change dentists, make sure you let them know when your last x-ray was. If you cannot remember, call your last dentist office and request that information.
  • If children need orthodontic work which will involve X-rays, consider delaying treatment until they are 15.
  • Keep a note of all X-rays to monitor your own exposure.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry during an x-ray.

If you have more questions or concerns about x-rays, our staff at Pine Street Dental’s Thorold office can help.

How to Properly Floss

According to many experts, flossing daily can add 6 years to your life. Either way, it’s important to remove plaque build up and food particles in places where our toothbrush cannot reach. Some extra years is a nice bonus too!

Many folks are often surprised to learn that they’ve been flossing wrong the whole time. Here are some things to consider to be a an expert flosser:

Be Gentle

Flossing needs a gentle and patient touch that takes only a few minutes. Our gums are not designed to be roughed up with overzealous cleaning. This can cause a sore and achy mouth.

Choose the right kind of floss

You have many choices when it comes to buying floss: waxed, unwaxed, spongy floss or plastic dental tape. Many choose a specific floss depending on how tight the spaces are between the teeth and what works well for them. Avoid cheap dollar store floss. Try to invest in a floss that is recognized by the Canadian Dental Association.

Use the right amount of floss

18 inches of floss gives you enough to work with to get the job done. Too little and you run the risk of using the same spot over or the dental floss could break. There’s no need to cut the circulation off on your fingers while struggling with too little floss.

Flossing around dental work?

If you wear braces or other dental appliances, a proper flossing technique is especially important to avoid getting floss caught on wires or brackets. Special orthodontic floss has a stiff end that can be easily threaded under the main wire on your braces. If needed, a floss threader, which is a flexible device with a pick on one end and a loop on the other. To use a floss threader, place an 18-inch piece of the floss of your choice through the loop. Then insert the pointed end of the flosser under the main wire and pull through so the floss is under the main wire. Once you have the floss in place, follow the same principles of proper flossing technique that you would use with standard floss.

Now that we know what kind of floss to get and how much we need, here’s the right way to gently floss your teeth:

  1. Take your 18 inches of floss and wind it around middle fingers of each hand. Pinch the floss between the thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one- to two-inch length in between. Use the thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.
  2. Keep one or a two-inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use the index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.
  3. Gently guide the floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion almost like you are cutting wood. Do not force or snap the floss between your teeth. This can cut your gum and cause unnecessary bleeding. Gently contour the floss around the side of your teeth.
  4. Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.

And lastly, if you ever need a demonstration of proper flossing techniques, our Pine Street Dental staff will be happy to show you.

How To Deal With Bad Breath

Bad breath is never a popular topic to chat about. It can happen and either we notice it – or the others around us bring it to our attention. This can affect our confidence and make or break our social relationships. If it’s becoming a daily concern, then it’s time to take a closer look at some of the causes. Your diet, health, and your dental habits are the best places to start. Here’s a list of things to think about to help make sure you always have fresh breath:

  • Be consistent with your brushing habits. Floss and brush after each meal even if you are in school or at work. Set up a dental travel pack to take with you wherever you go. Schedule regular dental check-ups twice a year to make sure any serious issues are addressed such as cavities, unclean dentures, gum disease, tooth decay or an abscess.
  • Always remember to brush your tongue. Your tongue does a lot a work to help you eat and it will harbor a lot of bacteria too. This bacteria will rest on your tongue causing unwanted bad breath. To be extra thorough, try using a tongue scraper after you brush.
  • What you eat does affect your breath greatly. Eating whole foods such as vegetables and fruits can clean your teeth. Foods such as carrots, apples, cucumbers, and lettuce are excellent at freshening things up. Herbs such mint, spearmint and parsley are good additions to have after a meal. Not only do they help you digest, they also naturally clean your mouth.
  • Certain teas are very effective to clean the mouth. Try green tea, green tea with mint, peppermint or black tea but avoid adding sugar or milk.
  • Having a low carb or restrictive diet can result in bad breath. When we avoid carbs our bodies release ketones. These nasty little chemicals can create foul breath as they released from the body.
  • Sugarless gum is a great way to combat bad breath. By steadily chewing on a piece of minty gum you are continuously washing bacteria away.
  • Avoid too much sugar. A sweet diet can leave your teeth and tongue coated in sugar and acid.
  • Cut down on your coffee consumption. Coffee may smell great in the morning but not left in your mouth. Try drinking water along with your coffee or bush after your early morning cup.
  • Dehydration causes bad breath. During our busy day, we often forget to drink water leaving us feeling tired and sluggish. Water can wash away harmful bacteria and food left behind. Try to drink 8 glasses a day to help keep the bad breath away.
  • Certain medications can alter your breath. If you are on certain medications that are causing this issue, speak to your doctor. Mouthwash may help remedy the situation combined with staying hydrated and keeping up on your brushing and flossing habits.

How Tooth Whitening Works

Flossing and brushing our teeth every day is a good step towards keeping our teeth healthy. We also need to visit the dentist regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle; but over time, our teeth may not stay as sparkling white as they used to be.

Keeping our teeth looking their best is important and helps us to feel more confident. So it’s no surprise that whitening our smile is one of the main things we focus on while visiting the dentist. If you are looking to get back that bright sparkle, it helps to know the facts.

5 Reasons our teeth change colour

1. Diet

Many liquids such as coffee, tea, and wine can alter the colour of your teeth over time. These liquids come with pigments called chromogens that discolour the enamel of your teeth.

2. Aging 

We have a substance in our teeth called dentin. It’s the inner soft part of your teeth. Over time, our tough outer enamel gets thinner from brushing, acid foods and drinks. As it gets thinner and thinner, the yellow dentin starts to show through. 

3. Mouth injuries

Trauma to the mouth can cause teeth to change colour. An injured tooth will produce more dentin to help the tooth recover from a hard blow. Unfortunately, this extra dentin will be darker depending on the severity of the injury. 

4. Medications 

Some drugs can have a strong effect on our teeth. Discolouration can happen from taking antihistamines to high blood pressure medication. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can also alter the colour of your teeth. 

5. Smoking 

Tobacco creates stubborn staining from tar and nicotine. Tar is a very dark substance. Nicotine once mixed with oxygen turns yellow and becomes a tooth staining culprit.

Your teeth whitening options

Getting your teeth white again is a fairly simple process. Most whitening products use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. They act as bleaching agents to break down stains to help your teeth look brighter.

Whitening products will not work on all teeth because it depends on the level of colour and what caused the discolouration. If your teeth are discoloured due to smoking or diet then you will have a higher success rate. Teeth discoloured from an injury or medications may not benefit from whitening. Also, whitening products do not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings.

The best way to start the process is to talk to your dentist about these options:

• Whitening toothpaste

Toothpaste is made with mild abrasives that help scrub the teeth. Whitening toothpastes come with special chemicals and polishing agents to help with stain removal. Because they do not contain bleach, they will only remove surface stains from the teeth. Before buying these types of toothpaste, make sure they are recognized by the Canadian Dental Association. 

• Dentist office bleaching

Going to the dentist to whiten your teeth usually only requires one visit. They will apply a gel or a rubber shield to protect your gums before bleach is put on your teeth. From there, your dentist will use a light or laser to activate the whitening agent. 

• At-home bleaching 

You can buy kits that allow you to bleach your own teeth at home. Some contain a peroxide-filled gel that can be poured on a tray that will sit on your teeth. Whitening strips are another option. This method allows you to stick strips on your teeth for a certain amount of time. If you are considering these options, read the instructions first. Also, the bleaching compound is lower than what you would receive at the dentist so this process can take longer and can end up being more expensive. 

There are some precautions to take note of. Some of these methods can cause tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. Overuse of whiteners can damage your tooth enamel. Always follow the directions and consult your dentist before you buy and try these methods at home.