Yellow or stained teeth can put a dent in your smile. That may be why, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, almost 90% of dental patients ask their providers for some type of teeth whitening. Here at Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. in Orinda, California, we often get questions about how patients can whiten their teeth and keep them white. 

Here to address these topics are Dr. Ellis and our dental team. We’re proud to offer at-home and in-office teeth whitening options that can brighten your smile safely and effectively. If you have yellowed or stained teeth, keep reading to discover how you can get a bright, white smile again.

Why are my teeth yellow or stained?

Natural teeth are normally off-white to white in color, but they may turn yellow due to extrinsic stains or intrinsic stains. 

Extrinsic stains

Stains on the exterior of teeth are called extrinsic stains. These stains usually develop due to eating certain foods, consuming certain drinks, or poor oral hygiene. Some of the foods and drinks that can cause surface stains include the following:

  • Berries
  • Tomato sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Coffee and tea
  • Dark sodas
  • Red wine
  • Fruit juices
  • Energy drinks

In addition, using tobacco products, eating gummies and hard candies that contain colored dyes, or eating dark chocolate may make your teeth look yellow and dingy. 

Intrinsic stains

Stains that are beneath the enamel are called intrinsic stains. These usually develop due to aging or taking certain medications. When it comes to aging, the enamel covering your teeth can thin, and the yellow dentin layer beneath can show through. 

When it comes to medications, certain ones — such as Tetracycline, which is an antibiotic — can cause staining beneath the enamel.

Treating surface stains

When it comes to extrinsic stains, there are a couple of options that may be able to help you:

In-office whitening

In-office procedures provide the fastest and most efficient means of whitening your teeth. We put a professional-grade gel with a peroxide-based bleaching agent on your teeth. Then we activate it using a special laser.

This process can get rid of much of the yellowing and lift the stains right off your teeth, so you can leave the office with a dazzling smile.

At-home whitening kits

Some people prefer to whiten their teeth in the privacy and comfort of their own home. If that sounds like you, we can provide you with at-home kits that contain the bleaching gel and custom-created whitening trays that you can use whenever you want.

Don’t confuse these kits with over-the-counter options you can get at the drugstore. Drugstore options can be hit-or-miss, since their whitening solutions likely won’t be as strong as the professional solutions we offer. With our kits, you can expect to see results within a few days or a few weeks. With store-bought kits, it could take months to get results, if you get any at all.

Treating stains beneath the surface

The bleaching options above won’t help with intrinsic stains. As mentioned, this type of yellowing is often due to thinning enamel or due to taking certain medications. Furthermore, some people may want more permanent whitening options. 

If you fall into any of these categories, dental veneers might be a good option for you. Veneers are wafer-thin, tooth-colored, porcelain shells that we bond to the front surfaces of your teeth. Once they’re placed, they cover any staining to give you a permanent bright, white smile. Furthermore, veneers can even correct minor dental flaws, such as gapped teeth and unequal tooth sizing.

How to keep your teeth white following treatment

The best thing you can do to keep your teeth dazzling white is to avoid smoking and consuming the highly staining foods and drinks that may have sent you to our office in the first place. At the very least, you should consume them in moderation and rinse your mouth out afterward.

Our office can also advise you on the best whitening toothpastes and proper brushing techniques to help you maintain your results. In addition, we can give you touch-up whitening kits to use at home before the stains and yellowing get entrenched. 

If you’re looking for a brighter, whiter smile, book an appointment online or over the phone with Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. today.