In an ideal world, our smiles would remain bright, shiny, and healthy throughout our lifetimes. In practice, teeth become discolored. This is a common issue, affects most adults over the course of their lives, and it can occur for any of a variety of reasons. There’s no reason to be ashamed of discolored teeth, but you may want to correct that condition for professional or personal reasons. So, what’s the best way to go about it?
Two of the most common approaches to correcting discolored teeth are teeth whitening and dental veneers. Both have their advantages, so it will depend on your situation, your overall goals for your appearance and your oral health, and how much time you want to invest in addressing discolored teeth. Let’s learn a bit more about discoloration, what causes it, and what both teeth whitening and veneers have in common.
What Causes Discoloration?
There are a host of potential causes for discolored teeth. If you notice the color of your teeth changing, particularly changing suddenly or unexpectedly, you should consult your dentist for an exam to address the issue. In general, some of the more common causes of discoloration are:
- Food and drink are the most likely culprit for most people. Some foods are prone to staining teeth an off-color; red wine, coffee, and colas/sodas are common causes of discolored teeth. Some fruits and vegetables can do the same, as can some chocolates and candies.
- Tobacco use is bad for all aspects of health, particularly oral health, and it is a prime cause of discolored teeth. Both smoking and chewing tobacco can discolor the teeth.
- Poor dental hygiene is another problem that may lead to discolored teeth. Without regular and effective brushing and flossing–combined with a good diet and regular dental exams and cleanings–your teeth will likely become discolored or yellowed.
- Some medical conditions can lead to discolored teeth. Some diseases may cause the tooth to become yellowed. Some medical treatments, including certain medications, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy, may lead to discoloration. Your doctor and dentist can tell you more about how this may affect you.
- Genetics and aging may also be to blame. Some of us are just more prone to discolored teeth. Likewise, teeth may naturally yellow as we get older.
Teeth Whitening vs Dental Veneers
Teeth whitening and dental veneers work differently in how they correct discolored teeth. Let’s take a look at teeth whitening first.
Teeth whitening works by using a chemical agent to bleach the teeth to the desired color and shine. As with laundry bleach, the chemicals used in teeth whitening treatments work by removing stains and discolorations. Generally, this can be accomplished in one dentist visit. Your dentist will apply the whitening agent to your teeth, let it sit for the appropriate amount of time, and then remove it and clean your teeth. You’ll be left with nice, shiny, clean teeth. While this is fairly quick and easy, it’s not necessarily a permanent solution. You may need to return to the dentist for whitening treatments periodically.
Dental veneers are a permanent prosthetic solution. As the name suggests, your dentist will craft thin porcelain or ceramic veneer to be affixed to the outer side of the tooth or teeth in question. This is a permanent treatment–the tooth or teeth may need to be reshaped in order to accept the veneer. While the veneer may be colored any way you want and requires no more care than your natural teeth, veneers may involve more than one office visit, are more expensive, and again do involve permanently altering your natural teeth.
So what’s the best choice? That depends on you and your situation–your overall health and overall goals are the key consideration. Your dentist can help you decide by explaining what both teeth whitening and dental veneers will mean for you and then guide you to the right choice. If you’re interested in either teeth whitening or dental veneers, get in touch today and make an appointment! Our experienced and friendly staff will explain both and what you need to know about them.