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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
Store and its social media channels. He is a regular contributor to Agent Straight Talk, the
only consumer blog explaining the ins, outs and in-betweens of dental insurance and
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Tooth stains? A no pain no-brainer

Jul 12, 2012

July is Cosmetic Dental Month at the Dentist Insurance Store. In observance of this bright occasion we are shining the sparkling beacon of oral awareness on popular cosmetic dental procedures like teeth whitening, veneers, bonding, crowns and implants. But before we get the dental cart ahead of the teeth whitening horse, first we should address the question: What causes teeth to stain?

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We’ve all seen television commercials about whiter teeth and how easily they can be yours in just minutes a day, all for less money than a family of four might spend at the movies. Or for that matter, what a family of four might spend just for large shared popcorn at the movies. But I digress.

Why exactly do our teeth need whitened? I mean, most of us brush twice daily and many floss (those that don’t know who you are), and since most toothpastes contain whiteners, why do our teeth discolor?

Let us count the ways: Age (lying about our age may make us feel better but our teeth can’t be fooled), consuming foods and beverages like coffee, tea and red wine, smoking or using tobacco products in other forms, and medications.

DID YOU KNOW? Teeth-whitening products like toothpastes aren’t meant to clean teeth but rather remove surface stains. That means that even if you have your teeth professionally cleaned, as long as you continue consuming the same foods and drinks that stained your teeth initially, those pearlies will stain again.

Speaking of teeth staining, there are two different kinds: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic stains are those that darken the surface, or exterior of the teeth. Extrinsic stains are caused by dark-colored beverages, foods, tobacco, and routine wear and tear.  Superficial extrinsic stains can be removed with regular brushing and dental cleanings (elbow grease optional). More persistent stains require teeth bleaching. The most persistent stains can penetrate the dentin and may become ingrained (intrinsic) if not addressed early.

Intrinsic stains are those that form on the interior of the teeth due to trauma, aging, vulnerability to antibiotics (like tetracycline) during tooth formation, and excessive consumption of fluoride. Previously intrinsic stains were believed to be too resistant to bleaching to be effective, but now experts believe that even deep-set intrinsic stains can be removed under professional supervision by using home teeth-whitening kits over several months.

Stain removal and even the effectiveness of teeth whitening also depends on the natural color of your teeth.  In addition to all Americans being endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of white teeth, the self-evident truth is that we are all packaged with inborn tooth colors ranging from yellow-brownish to greenish-grey, and those colors intensify as Father Time marches on.

Also, while all teeth show some translucency, some people’s teeth are more opaque and thicker than others.  Those that are thicker appear lighter in color, gleam more and react better to bleaching. Thinner teeth that are more transparent, especially the front teeth, have less of the pigment that is responsive to bleaching.

Bottom line: we all may be created equal, but thanks to genetics, teeth not so much.  If you have a problem with those circumstances talk to your Mom and Dad or text XY-CHROMOSOME, or XX-CHROMOSOME.

In our next post we’ll look at the different methods of teeth whitening and the pros and cons to each.  Until then, thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk and remember: A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you are at home. Email me at:

Find me on Twitter at Twitter@ToothTeller

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Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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