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The Real Causes of Your Tooth Discoloration, and How to Fix It

If you constantly find yourself looking in the mirror, wishing for more attractive teeth, you’re not alone! A recent survey shows that a full 80% of Americans aged 18 to 49 wish they had a whiter smile. 

In a culture driven by social media and selfies, it may feel like your less-than-perfect teeth are always on display. Rather than hiding them behind your hands or a close-lipped smile, it’s time to take action. Start by uncovering the root causes of your tooth discoloration, then ask your dentist for help using professional teeth whitening to make those stains disappear. 

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

Tooth discoloration develops gradually as the effects of food, beverages, age, and certain lifestyle habits take their toll. 

Tooth Discoloration From What You Eat

Food and drinks are the most common culprits of staining to the outer layer of your teeth called the enamel. Coffee, wine, soda, and other popular dark-colored drinks contain potent pigments that bond to and stain tooth enamel. Discoloration doesn’t appear immediately, but little by little your white enamel turns dark and full. 

Here are a few of the worst food and beverage culprits:

  • Black coffee and tea
  • Soda and dark juices
  • Dark condiments like soy sauce
  • Red wine
  • Dark berries

In addition to foods that directly stain your teeth with their pigments, unhealthy diet choices can also make discoloration worse. If most of your diet consists of processed foods loaded with sugar and acid, your teeth are more likely to suffer the effects of plaque, cavities, and decay.

Tooth Discoloration From Poor Oral Care

Poor oral care is another common cause of tooth discoloration. If you fail to brush and floss regularly, it’s all too easy for bacteria, acid, and plaque to accumulate and harden into tartar. Plaque and tartar both create an unsightly yellow coating around your teeth that leads to other issues like bad breath, decay, and tooth loss. 

Fortunately, it can all be avoided with better oral hygiene! The simple actions of brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist twice a year help prevent discoloration before it begins.  

Tooth Discoloration From Age 

Age causes many changes to the body, and not all of them are welcome. This includes tooth discoloration, unfortunately. Your tooth enamel thins as you age, making the underlying yellow dentin more visible. Combined with the normal discoloration of enamel after 60 or 70 years of food and beverage stains, the results aren’t always pretty. 

Tooth Discoloration From Poor Lifestyle Habits

You probably already know the lifestyle habits that put your teeth at the highest risk of discoloration. Namely, smoking. Tobacco is notorious for staining nails and teeth an unsightly shade of yellow and brown. Quitting isn’t easy, but you owe it to yourself to try! 

How Can Professional Teeth Whitening Brighten Your Smile?

With so many teeth whitening products out there, how can you choose which is best to reverse your tooth discoloration and restore your smile? 

When in doubt, turn to your dentist for advice. Dentists offer professional teeth whitening systems that aren’t available in stores. Using powerful, professional-grade ingredients, whitening systems like Lumibrite can quickly and easily remove stains from your teeth to give you the brighter, whiter smile you’ve always wanted. 

Lumibrite

Lumibrite is a gentle yet powerful in-office whitening treatment that produces impressive whitening results in as little as 30 minutes. It uses 16%, 22%, or 32% hydrogen peroxide to remove the stains embedded in your tooth enamel and restore a whiter, more attractive appearance. 

This whitening treatment sets itself apart by also including the use of a Lumibrite Desensitizing Enhancer, a gel that prevents the uncomfortable sensitivity and zinging sensations commonly caused by over-the-counter whitening kits. 

In addition to your in-office treatments, you can also bring Lumibrite home to maximize and maintain your results with Lumibrite take-home whitening kits. Your two-week take-home kit consists of a set of custom-made trays and your preferred concentration of whitening gel. The 32% formula only requires three minutes of contact with your teeth a day, while the 16% and 22% formulations can deliver results when applied for a few hours a day. 

How to Start Teeth Whitening

The path to whiter teeth isn’t long or difficult at all! Dr. Cortadi and her team of experts at Ablantis Dental in Encinitas, CA are here to help you find the whitening system that best fits your needs. Whether you want a fast and powerful chairside whitening treatment or a gradual at-home protocol, Ablantis Dental can pair you with the ideal whitening system. 

Call Ablantis Dental today at (760) 334-0128 to make your first appointment and regain confidence in your smile. 

Sensitive Teeth? Here Are the Top Causes and Treatments

 

Your teeth might look healthy, but what issues are lingering under the surface? Sensitive teeth is one of the most common issues plaguing adults, with 1 in 8 people reporting ongoing sensitivity. 

 

If you can’t enjoy an ice cream cone or a hot cup of tea without cringing as zings and jolts of pain shoot through your mouth, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Rather than avoiding your favorite foods or accepting a diminished quality of life, you can seek help from your dentist to minimize and reverse your sensitive teeth symptoms. 

Why Do I Have Sensitive Teeth?

There are many different reasons you may have developed tooth sensitivity. This condition is officially known as “dentin hypersensitivity”. Anything from brushing hard to neglecting your dental care has the potential to trigger tooth sensitivity. 

Aggressive Brushing

We know how important it is to brush, but only when it’s done properly! Brushing too hard wears away your gum tissue and tooth enamel. Imagine using a sponge to scrub away a coating of grime on a kitchen plate; you have to scrub with force to remove the grime. That’s exactly what happens to your enamel and gum tissue when you brush aggressively or use a hard-bristled toothbrush. 

 

Without enamel and gum tissue to provide adequate protection, your tooth roots can become exposed. Every time a food, beverage, or gust of air touches those roots, you experience zings of sensitivity. 

Nighttime Grinding

Many people grind their teeth at night without realizing it. This condition, known as bruxism, can cause significant damage to the integrity of your teeth. The grinding action wears down each tooth’s outer layer of enamel and makes the inner layers more vulnerable to exposure. 

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is an important and popular cosmetic procedure, but it can cause tooth sensitivity if used improperly. 

 

Most whitening systems use carbamide peroxide as the active ingredient because it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. As soon as hydrogen peroxide touches the surface of your tooth, it passes through the enamel and breaks down the stain molecules responsible for visible discoloration. This has great cosmetic benefits, but it compromises the integrity of your tooth enamel to protect the underlying nerves. 

 

You don’t need to avoid teeth whitening altogether, but make sure you don’t use your teeth whitening gels more frequently or for longer periods of time than recommended. Some brands offer peroxide-free whitening products specifically for sensitive teeth as well. 

Acidic Foods and Beverages

If soda and orange juice are your go-to beverages, or if pickles and tomatoes are your favorite snacks, your teeth could be in trouble. A high intake of acidic foods and beverages creates gradual and ongoing erosion of tooth enamel. Of course, it also puts you at a higher risk of tooth decay. Both of these factors increase your risk of tooth sensitivity. 

Signs of Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are very easy to identify. Unlike other health conditions that lurk silently in your body for years, sensitive teeth stimulate blatant symptoms that are impossible to ignore. 

 

More than anything, you can recognize sensitive teeth by the “zing” of pain and discomfort that occurs in response to specific triggers. These are a few of the most common sensitive teeth triggers:

  • Hot beverages and foods
  • Cold beverages and foods
  • Sweet or acidic beverages and foods
  • Cold air
  • Coldwater
  • Alcohol-based mouthwash
  • Brushing and flossing
  • Touching a tooth with a finger object (like a dentist’s tool)
  • Biting or chewing down

 

The pain caused by tooth sensitivity is usually sharp, sudden, and spontaneous. You’ll know it as soon as you feel it. 

Sensitive Teeth Treatment Options

You shouldn’t have to live with the constant fear of sensitivity pings and zings! Tooth sensitivity is just like any other dental issue- it can be treated in order to improve your comfort and happiness. 

 

Ask your dentist about the following treatment options to find the best choice for you. Mild sensitivity may be resolved with something as simple as a different toothpaste, while severe sensitivity may require a more complex dental procedure. 

Mineralizing or Desensitizing Toothpaste

Your teeth are composed of and sustained by minerals. When your teeth lose minerals faster than they gain minerals, you start to notice unpleasant symptoms like sensitivity. You can combat this issue with a mineralizing toothpaste that restores calcium, phosphate, zinc, magnesium, and other essential minerals into your enamel and dentin. 

 

You can also use a desensitizing toothpaste that reduces sensitivity by blocking the transmission of feelings from nerves to the tooth surface. This effect builds over time, so you need to continue using the toothpaste to feel the benefits. 

Mouth Guard for Grinding

If nighttime grinding is causing your tooth sensitivity, using a mouth guard is an easy solution. Simply sleep with a mouth guard in place to protect your teeth and prevent the damage that additional grinding would cause. 

Root Canal

If all else fails, your dentist may recommend a root canal to permanently resolve severe sensitivity. A root canal is a way to save your natural tooth by removing all decaying content from its inner chamber, including nerves and pulp. Once your tooth is cleaned out, it’s sealed shut to prevent future damage. Your pain will subside immediately!

Take Action to Prevent Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth aren’t inevitable! You can take action to protect your mouth from future damage and maintain the integrity of your smile. Prevention is always easier than trying to solve a problem that’s out of control. 

 

Take these steps to improve your oral care routine and reduce your risk of sensitivity:

  • Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Use gently strokes when brushing
  • Floss daily
  • Decrease your intake of acidic and sugary foods and drinks
  • Drink more water

 

Of course, it always helps to visit your dentist every six months as well. Your local Encinitas dentist will assess the health of your mouth, identify potential concerns, and help you keep your smile as bright and beautiful as possible. 

 

Learning About Teeth: Tooth Names & Functions

Learning About Teeth: Names of Teeth in Mouth & Functions

The sooner we can understand the function of teeth, teeth numbers, and names the sooner we’ll realize how important it is to look after our pearly whites on a regular basis. Once we’ve inherited our complete set of adult teeth, it’s our responsibility to learn about how to keep our teeth healthy and understand what is the function of teeth.

Anatomy of a Tooth

There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to our teeth, and dental professionals may need to probe beyond the surface to pinpoint the root of a dental issue.

As you may already know, teeth are the strongest part of the human body. Each tooth is constructed from dense minerals which make them exceptionally durable and long-lasting.

However, our teeth consist of other components which are only visible by looking at an X-ray.

Parts of a Tooth

Enamel

The enamel is the outermost layer of each tooth. It is made up of tightly-bonded mineral deposits which protect us from erosion caused by certain foods and drinks, i.e. carbonated beverages, sugar, coffee, etc. Since our enamel cannot be regenerated, it must be preserved through proper and regular brushing techniques.

Crown

The crown is the top surface of the tooth which is visible to the naked eye. Our crowns are both protective and functional, helping to mash food for digestion. The way the crown is shaped dictates its tooth type. Some major dental procedures will require a crown replacement if it is necessary to drill through the enamel.

Dentin

Dentin is the layer found beneath our enamel and surrounding our pulp. Our dentin houses millions of tiny tubes that travel to the core of each tooth to supply nutrients to the blood vessels contained in the pulp.

Gumline

Our gumline is where our teeth meet our gums. The gumline must be cleaned through daily flossing and brushing. Food can get trapped in the fine ridges around the teeth, which can lead to plaque or gingivitis.

Pulp

Our pulp is found at the center of each tooth. Pulp contains millions of nerve endings and blood vessels, which makes it highly sensitive. Localized tooth pain is likely caused by a cavity that has drilled through the enamel and dentin into the pulp.

Root

The root makes up more than half of each tooth and is embedded underneath a thick layer of bone. Thanks to our roots, our teeth can remain securely in place without moving around our mouths while we eat or chew our food.

Types of Human Teeth and Names of Teeth in your Mouth

After our primary “baby” teeth fall out, adults grow a second set of 32 permanent teeth. Our permanent teeth can be broken down into four categories:

Molars1

Adult humans have 12 molars which are located at the back of the mouth (6 on the top and 6 on the bottom). Our molars are wider and flatter than our other teeth, which makes them ideal for the function of molars of breaking down foods before swallowing.

Molar Tooth Numbers

Top Teeth

#1, #2, #3, #14, #15, #16

Bottom Teeth

#17, #18, #19, #30, #31, #32

Bicuspids1

Also known as premolars, adults grow a total of 8 bicuspid teeth (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom). Bicuspids have a flat surface and function similarly to molars to help with mechanical digestion of food.

Bicuspid Tooth Numbers

Top Teeth

#4, #5, #12, #13

Bottom Teeth

#20, #21, #28, #29

Incisors1

Our 8 frontmost teeth (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom) are called incisors. These teeth are responsible for biting off chunks of food to be further processed down by the molars and bicuspids.

Incisors Tooth Numbers

Top Teeth

#7, #8, #9, #10

Bottom Teeth

#23, #24, #25, #26

Canines1

Adults possess 4 canine teeth on either side of our incisor teeth (2 on the top and 2 on the bottom). Canine teeth are much more sharp and precise than our other teeth. Canine teeth function is to help us tear apart dense foods like meats and fibrous vegetables.

Canine Tooth Numbers

Top Teeth

#6, #11

Bottom Teeth

#22, #27

5 Ways to Improve Dental Health

Certain practices like eating junk food or getting mouth piercings can actually damage the individual components of our teeth. Now that we know the fundamentals about our teeth, we can explore a number of different ways to improve our overall dental hygiene:

Adopt a whole foods lifestyle.

By limiting our consumption of sugar, fast food, and carbonated beverages, we are better able to maintain the integrity of our enamel. Strong enamels are vital in the prevention of cavities.

Remove oral piercings.

Metal jewelry around the lips, on the tongue, or anywhere close to our teeth can quickly lead to painful chips and breaks. While our teeth are impeccably strong, a chipped tooth can cause profuse bleeding and bacterial infection. For cosmetic reasons, a chipped tooth will require a crown replacement or veneer.

Exercise regularly.

Emerging studies show a link between obesity and periodontal disease, which affects our gums. By combining regular exercise with a healthy eating regimen, it becomes much easier to prevent oral decay and disease.

Quit smoking.

Cigarette smoke is extremely corrosive to our enamels. Since it is a gaseous substance, cigarette smoke can perforate our gumline and corrupt our enamels much more easily than food or drink. People who quit smoking will notice an immediate improvement in their oral health.

Brush and floss.

This one goes without saying, but daily flossing and proper brushing is the best way to prevent oral decay and achieve a beautiful smile. Flossing is necessary to keep gingivitis at bay, while brushing must be performed at least twice daily to remove potentially harmful plaque and bacteria.

How Can Ablantis Help?

Our experienced dental professionals here in Encinitas can tell you everything you need to know about your teeth. We understand that every mouth is different, and our goal is to provide individualized dental care to each of our patients. Ablantis offers a long list of dental services, including:

  • Teeth Whitening
  • X-Rays
  • Root Canals
  • Custom Inlays
  • Periodontal Screening
  • And much more.

Send a text to (760) 790-4754, or call (760) 334-0128 to book an appointment. You’re one conversation closer to healthier teeth!

1. “Study Links Obesity to Higher Risk for Periodontal Disease.” Oral Health and Dental Care, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/threats-to-dental-health/ada-05-study-links-obesity.

2. “Enamel Erosion: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/enamel-erosion.

3. “Human Teeth Dental Charts – Bradford Family Dentistry.” Bradford Family Dentistry www.bradfordfamilydentist.ca/human-teeth-dental-charts.