Exploring Oral Health Symptoms, Issues and Solutions

What Is Age-Related Teeth Discolouration, and How Is It Treated?

The discolouration of teeth can be a natural part of the ageing process. As the years go by, the layer of dental enamel that coats your teeth becomes thinner. As enamel is translucent, this means that the dentin underneath becomes more prominent. Most of a tooth is actually composed of dentin, which is generally an off-white colour. The trouble is that this dentin can darken with age. When thinning enamel is combined with darkening dentin, it's not really surprising that teeth can begin to show their age. Will whitening treatments have any effect on teeth that have discoloured due to the effects of ageing?

A Reversible Condition

Age-related discolouration can certainly be reversed, but a specific approach is going to give the best results. At-home whitening kits won't necessarily deliver those results — at least, not to the standard you were hoping for. You're also at risk of elevated sensitivity to the whitening gel if your enamel is particularly thin. 

Schedule a Dental Appointment

Anyone attempting to whiten their teeth should start by visiting their dentist. It's important to ensure that your dental enamel is as neutral as possible. This involves removing superficial, extrinsic stains, which involves a professional dental cleaning. An ultrasonic scaler will be used to gently buff these surface stains away. This clears the way for the whitening process since your treatment no longer needs to contend with this extrinsic surface staining. 

Your Thinning Dental Enamel

Your age-related discolouration is best reversed by your dentist. This takes your thinning enamel into account, and depending on the level of tooth wear you've experienced, also allows certain forms of dental restorations to be used. For example, it might be that on certain teeth, your enamel is simply too thin to make teeth whitening a wise choice. Your dentist may recommend that these teeth have some added protection in the form of dental bonding.

When a Restoration Is Needed

Dental bonding is when a thin layer of tooth-coloured resin is applied to the tooth, becoming its new outer surface. It's comparable to a layer of artificial dental enamel. The colour of the resin will be preselected and should be the level of whiteness that you hope to achieve across your entire smile. Bonding is non-invasive, with immediate results. These results may be a little off-putting since the bonded tooth will be the shade of white you want, whereas your other teeth are still discoloured.

Evening Up Your Results

Your dentist can individually whiten these other teeth, bringing them to the same shade as any restoration work. This level of precision is not available with a home whitening kit, which is why at-home treatments for age-related discolouration often bring mixed results. 

Given the fact that your dental enamel isn't as strong as it once was, attempting to treat age-related tooth discolouration at home can be a frustrating experience. It's always best to see your dentist, allowing you to get those results you're after, without endangering your dental health.

For more information on teeth whitening, contact a professional near you.