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Removing stains from your teeth

Updated on March 29, 2011

Removing Stains from Teeth: Whitening and Bleaching

One of the most common cosmetic dental questions is, "how do I remove the stains from my teeth?". Everyone wants a brighter smile! Stained and yellow teeth can make you self conscious about your smile.

The science of whitening teeth and removing stains from teeth depends on a couple of factors. First and foremost is the nature of the stains. There are two basic types of stains, Intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains are part of the tooth, you were born with them. The most common type of intrinsic stain is from the drug tetracycline. Removing these stains completely is near impossible. However, with in office, deep bleaching, we can sometimes lighten them to a more acceptable brightness.

Extrinsic stains are more common; they come from our food and habits. The enamel of your teeth is made from crystal rods that are stacked like logs. There are spaces within the rods and around them. When you eat, drink, smoke..etc...Organic molecules attach to your enamel. In time these organic molecules penetrate into your tooth causing them to look more yellow or brown. The good news is, what goes in, can come out!

After determining the type of stain the next step is to clean the teeth. Bleaching cannot take place through plaque and tartar. The chemicals that remove the stain are neutralized in the presence of saliva and bacteria. Brushing is usually not enough; a professional cleaning with pumicing of the teeth is required to ensure the removal of the plaque and biofilms that coat the teeth.

Bleaching works though the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide into water and a free radical oxygen molecule. This highly reactive oxygen molecule penetrates into the enamel and breaks the organic stain into pieces and washes it out. This process of stain removal is dependent on two main variable, time and concentration.

The higher the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide the more reactive oxygen molecules penetrate into the enamel.  The longer the bleach is on the teeth the deeper the molecules can penetrate and remove stain.

Here enters the problem, SENSIVITY.  Creating oxygen permeability of the enamel and removing the stain can make your teeth sensitive.  The greater the concentration and longer the bleach is on the teeth the more sensitivity you will experience.

The trick in reducing sensitivity is to use sensoydyne toothpaste, fluoride gels and pain relievers during the two weeks you are bleaching.

For more information on bleaching or dentistry visit


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      jenny 4 years ago