Human teeth discolor due to various reasons. There are three main types of discoloration of teeth: 

Extrinsic – Staining that occurs in the outer layer of the teeth, called the enamel. The main cause is Coffee, Wine, Cola beverages and smoking. These types of stains are usually yellow in color. 

Intrinsic – Staining that occurs in the inner structure of the tooth called the dentin. Causes vary from exposure, as a child, to Flouride, tetracycline antibiotics, trauma to particular tooth etc. These types of stains are usually greyish in color. 

Age related – As you grow older, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth starts to wears away. This reveals the dentin’s natural, yellow color. 

Virtually all treatments that involve teeth discoloration involve, at one time or another, a dental professional. Dentists are equipped to handle oral health evaluations and can recommend a course of action if tooth decay or gum disease is involved. If teeth health is given a green light then, almost always, the first recommendation is the maintenance of good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. Dentists, today, are also recommending ultrasonic toothbrushes as they are far more effective in removing stain causing foods. 

If tooth whitening is called for then, there are four types of treatments available: 

In-office tooth whitening is where you pay a visit to the dentist and they apply a bleaching peroxide gel to the tooth enamel. This process typically takes up about an hour. A laser or similar apparatus can be used to speed this process along. If the staining is extensive, multiple trips to the dentist will be required. If travelling to the dentist, often, is not a feasible option then the dentist can also recommend the next type of stain removal treatment. 

Dentist dispensed at home bleaching contain whitening kits, gels or strips. Most of these kits involve a mouth tray and a whitening gel. This is worn from anywhere from an hour to overnight. This treatment can continue for two to four weeks and an increasing number of dentists now agree to be the most effective solution to stain removal. These products usually have a mandatory, FDA approved, limit of whitening agents. The exact limit will vary from product to product. 

User purchased / over the counter for home use consists of a low concentration of bleaching agents that can be applied without the dentist’s supervision. It is essential that the time limits recommended for these products be adhered to, as whitening agents when left over a period of time can cause burning or erosion of enamel. Other products that fall into this category include toothpastes, chewing gums, whitening strips, rinses and paint-on liquids. All these products usually have a very low concentration of stain removal agents. 

Non-dental Office Options is an evolving trend in teeth whitening. Whitening kits are made available at non-dental offices such as kiosks, salons, spas etc. These kits are administered by non-dental professionals who have received product specific training. An increasing number of salons and spas have included teeth whitening into their offered services.