When we imagine a healthy smile, it’s straight, intact, and unstained. All teeth are present and in the right place, and when we see this smile, we sometimes assume the smile’s owner is more trustworthy, attractive, and intelligent. But when it comes to your health, does having a brighter, more attractive smile mean your mouth is healthier? Like most things, the answer is more complicated than you might think.

Are White Teeth Healthy?

How Do Teeth Get Stained?

The first step to solving this puzzle is understanding how teeth become stained in the first place. There are two kinds of discoloration that can occur: extrinsic staining and intrinsic. Extrinsic is the most common form of tooth staining, which makes it the best place to start. These kinds of stains happen when our enamel come into contact with staining agents. Tobacco is a well known staining agent that turns teeth yellow over time. The same goes for coffee, chocolate, and red wine. When these substances enter the mouth, they drift around and either get swallowed or cling to the teeth. While most assume our enamel is flat, it actually possess many natural ridges and pores that staining agents become embedded in. Over time, this turns teeth yellow.

Intrinsic staining occurs on the dentin layer of teeth below the enamel, and  is much less common. This type of staining is generally caused by medications, like tetracycline antibiotics, which can turn this layer gray. Genetics can also be a factor in intrinsic stains. Intrinsic staining can even occur in the tooth pulp, due to trauma or infection that needs to be treated with root canal therapy.

Does Discoloration Damage Teeth?

In and of itself, discoloration doesn’t mean your health is at risk. What’s more important is what, specifically, is the source of the discoloration. If you are a regular tobacco user, you are at a higher risk of gum disease than non-smokers not because of staining, but because of the inflammation caused by smoking. Regularly drinking red wine can also put your teeth at risk. Habitually drinking acidic foods like wine (both red and white) can wear down your enamel, putting you at risk of cavities and gum disease.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy and White

With the right care, you can make sure your teeth are both healthy and white. Keeping your teeth healthy is easy, and starts with consistent oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day and floss once. Because it takes between 12-20 hours for plaque to harden, brushing before bed and in the morning is best. Also important is visiting your dentist once every six months for a cleaning and checkup. This allows you to stay up to date with the shape of your teeth and gums, and if there is any problem, your dentist can suggest a treatment plan. Remember that dental health concerns don’t happen overnight.

If you’re concerned about the shade of your teeth, professional tooth whitening can do the trick. Using a solution designed to dissolve stubborn stains that have become attached to your enamel, teeth whitening can leave your teeth up to eight shades whiter. When paired with take-home whitening trays, the results can be even more dramatic.

Tired of living with a discolored smile? Are you sick of spending money on OTC tooth whitening products that just don’t work? Do you want to be happier and proud of your smile? If so come to the cosmetic dentistry office of Dr. Dunayer for tooth whitening in West Nyack today. He will be able to whiten and brighten any smile! Call our Rockland County dentist’s office us today at (845) 627-7645.