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Can dentists whiten yellow teeth?

 There are several things we are able to do in our office that helps remove discoloration—or yellowing—on a patient’s teeth. A combination of ultrasonic scaling, hand scaling, and polishing will help remove stains on the outside of the tooth, otherwise known as extrinsic stain.

Once that stain is removed, we do have additional types of tooth whitening available. We offer in-office whitening, which is the most effective. We also offer custom whitening trays. If your teeth have stains that can’t be removed with whitening, we can improve the appearance with porcelain crowns or veneers.

What causes tooth discoloration?

There are several causes of tooth discoloration:

  • Certain foods and drinks can stain your teeth, including coffee, tea, wine, apples, and potatoes.
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco can stain teeth.
  • Some diseases affect not only the hard surface of the teeth, but also the material under the enamel which can lead to tooth discoloration.
  • Poor dental hygiene can definitely lead to tooth discoloration.

How can tooth discoloration be prevented?

A few relatively minor adjustments to your daily life can help prevent tooth discoloration:

  • Cut back on drinking as much coffee and tea.
  • Quit or reduce smoking and chewing tobacco.
  • Brush and floss on a daily basis.

What are the different types of whitening procedures?

There are two primary types of tooth whitening procedures: vital whitening and non-vital whitening.

The most common type of vital tooth whitening uses a gel that is applied directly on the surface of the teeth. While you can purchase an over-the-counter whitening kit, in the office we use a more powerful gel.

When done in the office, it can take 30 to 90 minutes with multiple appointments, depending on how severe your teeth are stained and how white you’d like them to be. It’s always important to keep in mind that different types of stains will respond differently to the treatment.

Non-vital whitening, on the other hand, is typically used when the stain is coming from inside the tooth. One example would be a tooth that has had a root canal. A whitening agent is placed inside the tooth, then a temporary filling is put over it. The tooth will then be left in that condition for several days.

Non-vital whitening can also be done once or several times depending on how white you’d like your tooth to be.