What can I do to make my teeth look whiter?

The first step in achieving a whiter or brighter smile is to determine the source of the discoloration. Tooth colour is affected by many factors including age, oral hygiene, diet, caries, dental restorations, smoking, and even medications. It is recommended to visit your dentist to help determine the source of the discoloration prior to starting any “whitening or “bleaching” procedures. Restorations (fillings, crowns) are no affected by bleaching products and thus while the tooth structure may appear whiter after bleaching, the restorations will not.

Whitening products typically include toothpastes, gels, and gums. These products work on the surface staining of the teeth and do not affect the tooth structure the same way as bleaching products. Bleaching products have chemicals (typically peroxides) that break down inorganic and organic compounds. Bleaching procedures are available from both your dentist (in office whitening or take home bleaching trays) and over-the-counter.

The use of bleaching agents is recommended to be performed under a dental professional’s supervision and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Despite the desired result of whiter teeth, bleaching can result in some adverse effects. The chemical structure of the tooth is affected by bleaching agents, creating undesired porosity in the tooth structure. This can translate to tooth sensitivity- the most common side effect of bleaching. If not applied properly; the bleaching agent can also traumatize the soft tissues of the oral cavity. Therefore, it is recommended to speak with your dental professional prior to any bleaching procedures in order to have a better idea of what result can be expected.


Dr. Daniel Nosyk, B Sc. D.M.D