What Color Are Your Teeth?
Natural tooth color can be as individual as fingerprints. What color are your teeth? Why are your teeth this color now and will it change in the future? Usually, when we need to match a tooth color for a restoration or cosmetic dentistry procedure, we classify the color by shade (light to dark) and range (color foundation). A commonly used tool to make the best match with your existing teeth or choose a lighter shade for veneers is called a shade guide, which often classifies teeth within any of these basic ranges:
- reddish brown
- reddish yellow
- reddish gray
Within each range are different levels of lightness to darkness – in a shade guide there are usually at least 15 or more combinations, resulting in numerous choices. One of these combinations almost always approximates our patients’ existing or desired tooth color.
What Determines a Person’s Tooth Color?
A number of factors influence a person’s tooth color. Some elements you can control, and others are inherent to each individual.
What We Can’t Control
Genetics: The color of your teeth is largely inherited, as well as the potential for staining. Yep, you can thank your ancestors if you take excellent care of your teeth but your teeth are naturally dingy hued.
Aging: As we age, teeth become more yellowed.
Medicine: Some medication, particularly certain antibiotics, can cause a tooth color to change.
Injury: A traumatic tooth injury can result in discoloration within the dentin (the inner part of the tooth). The result is a grayish looking tooth
What We Can Control
Food and Drinks: There are a number of foods and drinks that are major culprits of stained teeth. Examples of these include: coffee, red wine, black tea, berries, sauces, dark soda and dyes in baked goods icing.
Over-fluoridation: Tooth discoloration can result when children are exposed to too much fluoride while their teeth are in the developmental phase.
Use of Tobacco Products: Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco can eventually turn teeth brown.
What About ZOOM!Whitening Stained Teeth?
No matter what tooth shade staining has created or inherited, Alabama Family Dentistry offers various tooth whitening options to help make them lighter. Acton Road Family Dentistry and Gardendale Family Dentistry offer ZOOM!Whitening. We have found that a change of just two or three shades can make a noticeable transformation in just about everyone’s smile. We offer professional ZOOM!Whitening for the best and safest results.
How white your teeth can be depends on your natural tooth color and how stubborn the stain discoloration. We use our shade guide to match your current tooth color to use as a starting point for which color hue classification you fall in. From there, we can estimate approximately the range of potential shades for how much whiter your teeth might become after whitening. Our in-office whitening process typically results in a change of between two and seven shades.
At – Home Whitening Kits
When time or cost is an issue an effective alternative to in-office whitening is an at-home bleaching whitener kit. These kits can only be dispensed by dentists and are available at all four Alabama Family Dentistry offices. The kit consists of whitening gel which is placed in custom fitted trays and worn for short periods during the day or even overnight as specified by your Alabama Family Dentist. We have found that final results are significantly whiter teeth.
Maintaining the Dazzle
It is important to remember that tooth whitening is not permanent, and how you treat your teeth may impact the longevity of the lightening effect. Touch-ups maybe needed every several years, especially if you drink coffee, tea, colas or wine, or smoke. To keep your teeth bright and light after your ZOOM!Whitening or at-home treatment, we recommend the following:
- Limit foods with stain potential and rinse with water after consuming, then brush if you can.
- Practice good oral hygiene habits and have bi-annual cleanings.
- Follow guidelines for safe fluoride use.
- Don’t smoke or chew tobacco products.
- Chew sugarless gum with xylitol after eating or drinking foods that can stain teeth if you can’t brush.
If the color of your teeth is holding you back from your smile potential, talk to the dental specialists at Alabama Family Dentistry, providing comprehensive dental care for patients in Birmingham, Gardendale, Warrior, Sumiton and central Alabama communities, about which whitening treatments can produce the most effective results for both your tooth color and wallet.