Over time, teeth can become stained or discolored, especially after smoking, taking certain medications, or consuming foods and beverages such as coffee and tea. Tooth whitening enhances the brightness of natural teeth, but it’s not for everyone. Talk to your dentist before you take action. The lifespan of whitened teeth can range from 4-12 months, depending on the type of treatment used and your consumption of food and drink that can easily stain teeth (such as blueberries, coffee, and tea). If you are a candidate for tooth whitening, you can choose either an over-the-counter tooth whitening kit or a Dentist-supervised treatment. Using a chemical process, your dentist can bleach your teeth in one of two ways. He can do an in-office procedure, or provide you with a system to use at home. Your dentist can create a custom mouthpiece tray that ensures the right amount of whitening solution reaches your teeth. You may find whitening at home more convenient. But it can take two to four weeks or longer depending on the strength of peroxide used. In-office whitening can take place in one or more 1- to 2-hour visits. Keep in mind, your teeth can become stained again if you continue exposing them to the same substances that originally stained them. Because whitening products are not meant to clean teeth, it is still important to continue practicing daily oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash daily.
A veneer improves the appearance of a tooth by covering the visible front surface with a custom-made, tooth-colored porcelain overlay. With proper care and good oral hygiene, a veneer has a lifespan of 5-10 years. A veneer is an artificial covering that only cover the forward (labial or buccal) surface of the tooth. They are usually used for aesthetic purposes only. Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length. Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. You will need to discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist. Veneers are routinely used to fix:
- Teeth that are discolored — either because ofroot canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
- Teeth that are worn down
- Teeth that are chipped or broken
- Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them)
- Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)