White teeth

Teeth: which external or internal agents change their color and how to keep them or make them white again.

The color of the teeth

The color gradation of the teeth is different for each person because it is genetically determined, and can tend more to white, yellow or gray.

In addition to the diversity already present originally, the color of the teeth can be modified by the presence of plaque and tartar and stains due to food, diseases or medicines.

What changes the natural color

It is possible that “extrinsic” stains appear on the teeth, i.e. external, due to the penetration into the enamel structure of pigments from food or drink.

Coffee, dark tea, red wine, nicotine and other substances contained in tobacco smoke have the ability to color the dental surfaces with which they come into contact, and over time visibly darken the teeth of those who consume them frequently.

Even the prolonged use of antibacterial mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine can darken the enamel in a very noticeable way.

Color changes can also be due to “intrinsic” stains, i.e. internal to the tooth structure, due for example to abnormalities in enamel mineralization, excessive intake of fluoride during childhood (fluorosis), or the use of drugs such as tetracyclines during the formation of permanent teeth.

The aging process, finally, darkens the color of the teeth: with the passage of time, in fact, the dentin, that is the bone tissue that is inside the enamel layer, thickens and tends to turn yellow; Since the enamel has no color but reveals that of dentin, the result is a general and natural yellowing of the teeth with advancing age.

Professional whitening

Dental practices today have materials that can lighten the color of the enamel by acting in depth, and thus obtaining positive results on both extrinsic and intrinsic stains.

These are products based on hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that penetrate the hard tissue of the tooth and act directly on the pigment molecules that darkened the color; These products are used for home bleaching and studio bleaching.

Home whitening is a treatment lasting 5/6 days: the dentist takes the cast of the patient’s dental arches to create masks that adapt to his anatomy; These will need to be filled with whitening gel and worn about half an hour a day to achieve bleaching.

Whitening in the studio is a procedure that is carried out in a single session of about an hour: the action of the applied gel is accelerated by the exposure of the teeth to the light of special plasma, laser or halogen lamps.

“Do-it-yourself” whitening

To lighten the color of the teeth you can use whitening toothpastes: these products contain abrasive substances that by rubbing, interposing themselves between the surface of the tooth and the bristles of the toothbrush, can attenuate the color of the extrinsic stains, but not of the intrinsic ones because they have no way to act within the structure of the tooth.

In pharmacies it is also possible to buy gels containing peroxides and preformed masks to whiten with products similar to those used in dental practices but containing substances in lower concentration and therefore with a milder effect (see contraindications).


Whitening interventions with abrasive substances should not be done with toothbrushes with too hard bristles: in order not to erode the enamel it is good not to exert a too energetic action and remember that brushing for two minutes is enough time for cleaning the teeth.

It is advisable to use whitening gels containing peroxide under the supervision of the dentist, who can check before their use if there are caries or inflammation of the gums and treat them before whitening the teeth.

The presence of implants and bridges should also be evaluated by a professional because whitening agents have different effects on enamel and other materials, and the risk is to obtain natural teeth of a different color than the prostheses present.

Peroxide products do not have permanent negative side effects: tooth sensitivity and gum irritation that may occur after treatment are transient, while no damage or weakening of the enamel occurs.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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