How to whiten the teeth

by Dr. Nandhini, K M

September 7, 2019

A beautiful sparkling smile is meant for everyone and trusts me, everyone deserves for whitening teeth. In most instance, many of you might think your smile is not aesthetically appealing and tend to lose confidence. In fact, some of you might have felt low-esteemed to face the public. Perhaps, a confident smile would definitely fetch extra power and positivity around you. Here the best part is, irrespective of your tooth colour tonicity, it is possible to make it lighter and brighter. 

What causes teeth staining?

Staining of teeth differs from person-to-person and it is significant to understand your cause to treat it better. Management of the whitening process varies from simpler home-based remedies to advanced treatment according to your condition. Discolouration of teeth is basically classified under two sections – intrinsic and extrinsic. 

Reasons for extrinsic stains :

  • The food you eat has major contribution to the external colouring of tooth structure. Some notable food products that contribute to staining include turmeric,  tea and coffee, tomato-based sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, red wine, berries and fruits, beetroot, strong spices and curries, candy and sweets. 
  • Plaque and calculus deposits on the tooth on a longer time would darken the shade of tooth structure. 
  • Smoking and tobacco play another role for discolouration. These may start as an extrinsic stain; however, on chronic usage, it might become a permanent deposit. 
  • Carbonated beverages like cola, soda and other products would not only stain your teeth but also erode the enamel with its acidic contents. Once enamel is lost, exposure of inner layer called dentin itself has a yellowish tint. 

Reasons for intrinsic stains :

  • An excessive amount of fluoride in your drinking water might replace calcium during your growing phase of life and causes discolouration.
  • Intake of certain antibiotics like tetracycline during childhood is more likely to cause yellowish deposition on the inner layer of tooth structure
  • It is also possible when your mother has consumed this tablet during the second half of pregnancy
  • Any trauma to the tooth during your childhood might affect the development of tooth structure, messing up the entire growth
  • Internal bleeding out of trauma in your permanent teeth would discolour them
  • Age-related factors like attrition or abrasion would cause wearing off the enamel and expose the dentin layer. Sometimes, these conditions have been seen even for young adults who have the habit of exerting excessive pressure while brushing, or those who have teeth-grinding habit ( bruxism ). 
  • Certain anomalies like amelogenesis imperfecta, dentinogenesis imperfecta, osteogenesis imperfecta and much more, are a few examples of developmental tooth defects which could affect the entire growth process of the tooth or at its certain stage of development, causing discolouration.

Management of tooth staining :

Treatment is basically based on whether the staining is superficial and easily controllable or severe which requires in-office attention. 

Home remedies :

Altering food habits :

  • Although food products are a contributing factor for tooth staining, some of them have rich nutrient values and others are rich in anti-oxidants. Not necessarily you have to avoid them; however, you shall limit the usage by choosing alternatives like cabbages, broccoli, creamy sauce, which also has excellent antioxidant property. 
  • For unavoidable healthy foods, don’t forget to mildly brush and rinse your teeth after every meal. This would certainly helpful for removing deposits and stains from the tooth.
  • If you are prone to tooth discolouration because of weakened enamel, it is better to use a straw while drinking fruit juices and beverages.
  • Quit habits like alcohol, smoking and tobacco not only for your oral health but also for overall well-being.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks as much as possible. These acidic beverages act as a risk factor for many health issues and are more likely to cause various health ailments.

Oil pulling :

Oil pulling is an ancient way of practice for protecting the gums from infection and to provide a healthy oral environment. It also has detoxification property. Regular oil pulling of 15 mins per day also has an efficient effect on whitening the teeth. Any physically milled cold-pressed oil can be used; however, coconut oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil are comparatively more advantageous.

oil pulling


Toothpaste containing baking soda :

Baking soda is one of the mild abrasive for removing superficial stains. Toothpaste containing baking soda can be used on a regular basis ( once daily ) for home-based mild stain removal. 

baking soda

In-office methods:

Mild to severe form of stains have different treatment modalities.

Oral Prophylaxis : 

Scaling and polishing are helpful to remove the milder form of extrinsic stains and keeps tooth away from plaque and calculus accumulation. It is recommended to do oral prophylaxis once a year for good oral hygiene. 

Teeth polishing :

For therapeutic purpose, polishing agents contain mild abrasives, anti-redeposition agents, colourants, proteases, peroxides or surfactants. All these have properties to disintegrate organic matrix of the stained contents. However, those are not meant for regular usage and your dentist would determine which product would suits you better according to the staining intensity and tooth condition. 

Bleaching :

Bleaching is an effective way of removing moderate to severe stains. Hydrogen peroxide is the bleaching agent; however, the concentration and duration of treatment vary according to your severity. It is essential to pay the utmost attention during the entire procedure and instructions have to be followed precisely as per your dentist. Mishandling of peroxide would cause dentin hypersensitivity and impose life-time trouble. 

Your dentist would either treat you in the office or guide you to use the gel with a specially designed tray at night. The composition of the products varies and it purely depends on your discolouration severity.

Nevertheless, after the bleaching procedure, it is common to have mild dentin hypersensitivity and it will get subsided with a month. If you encounter severe pain or sensitivity after the treatment, or if the sensitivity pertains even after 3 months of the procedure, it is better to consult your dentist. 



Veneers and laminates :

In conditions like tooth anomalies and extremely stained tooth due to enamel damages, all the above methods cannot give an adequate solution. In those situations, procedures like veneers and laminates are used. In this, the outer layer of the tooth is covered with ceramic or composite and the colour is matched according to your preference or adjacent tooth or skin tone. 

Perhaps, it is still possible for this artificial structure to become discoloured if you fail to maintain oral hygiene. 

Being said, by nature certain people will have a yellowish tint and that is not unpleasant though. Like our skin tone, tooth colour is also unique and beautiful. However, if something is hindering the oral hygiene, it has to be noted and taken care. 

References from Sciencedirect/PubMed : 

Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review

Stain removal and whitening by baking soda dentifrice: A review of literature

A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening.

Dr. Nandhini, K M

By Dr. Nandhini, K M

I belong to the healthcare professional and have been writing blogs for years. I use this platform to spread awareness about one's own health thereby providing insights to handle it on their own or directing a way to seek medical intervention at the right time. I contribute to provide reliable information after meticulous research and knowledge. I hope to engage my audience with unique topics and different experiences.


Leave a Comment...