Effective Teeth Whitening by Kevin C. Lucky, DDS PLLC

What Can Cause Teeth Stains to Occur?

There are a number of causes for teeth stains to occur, and these can be unique to each individual. Some common causes for teeth stains include:


Such as red wine and tea with intense color that attaches to the enamel of teeth


Including stubborn stains due to tar and nicotine


When the outer enamel gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin underneath becomes apparent


Where a tooth may lay down more dentin under enamel causing discoloration


Certain antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications. Young children exposed to tetracycline or doxycycline antibiotics when teeth are forming may have discoloration of adult teeth later. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can also darken teeth.

Professional Teeth Whitening Agents For Brighter Teeth

Whitening products contain one of two tooth whitening agents, often called “bleaches”. The most common found in products are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These peroxides come in different professional concentrations and they break stains down into smaller pieces, making the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter. The American Dental Association (ADA) monitors the effectiveness of dental whitening agents and sets standards for whitening practices. Choices at the dentist office can offer greater effectiveness with less time, but will also cost a little more than do-it-yourself versions. If you have tried a number of home whitening products, you may discover a level of tooth sensitivity or even tooth damage due to overuse, which the dentist can evaluate.

Does Whitening Work On All Teeth?

Whitening does not work on all teeth, unfortunately. This is why it is important to talk to your dentist and review your medical history before deciding to whiten your teeth. As you can tell by the causes of stains, whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns, or fillings. It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.

What Are My Teeth Whitening Options?

After consulting with the dentist, he can advise you of the best option to get your teeth whiter. You may also want to visit the ADA website for additional information about tooth whitening. Depending on your goals, here are a few teeth whitening options to consider:


All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives that scrub the teeth. Unlike bleaches, these types of ADA-accepted products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface. Look for the ADA’s seal for safe whitening toothpastes that have special chemical or polishing agents to provide additional stain removal effectiveness.


This procedure is called chair-side whitening or bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist will apply either a protective gel or a rubber shield to protect your gums. The whitening agent is applied to the teeth. A special light or laser might be used to enhance the action of the whitening agent for more effective brightening.



Whiteners with peroxide actually bleach or whiten the tooth enamel. They typically come in a gel form and are placed in a tray that fits snugly around your teeth. You may also use a whitening strip that sticks to your teeth. The concentration of the whitening agent is lower than what your dentist would use in the office.