Can Teeth Whitening Remove Stains?

As teeth whitening grows in popularity, we are seeing an increase in questions regarding treatment and how it works. Recently, we have been getting a lot of questions around staining and whether professional teeth whitening can effectively remove stains. In this blog post, we will explain the process of teeth whitening how it can give you brighter, whiter teeth and the kinds of stains it can remove.

Stains can build up on our teeth over time and they can be removed with a professional whitening process. At Revitalise Dental Centre, we offer several cosmetic treatments, including professional teeth whitening using a system developed by Boutique Whitening.

What causes staining?

Staining, or ‘extrinsic discolouring’ is caused by external factors. Drinks such as red wine and blackcurrant juice contain chromogens which stick to the enamel and stain teeth. Tannins found in tea and coffee can cause a brown discolouration to teeth if consumed often. Tobacco smokers will also see this extrinsic discolouration, as the chemicals present in tobacco products leave a yellow brown residue which sticks to the tooth’s surface.

Staining can also be caused by plaque. If left untreated, this can lead to a build up of a sticky yellow substance called tartar. Alongside teeth whitening treatments, it is important to look after your teeth, to brush regularly and visit a dentist every year to maintain a healthy smile.

Can teeth whitening remove stains - Revitalise Dental Centre

Discolouration is more than just ‘staining’

It is a common misconception that discolouration is caused solely by extrinsic factors such as drinking coffee and using tobacco products. This misconception has led to a growth in demand for abrasive teeth whitening products, which many people assume will help to whiten their teeth.

Often discolouration goes deeper than the surface, into the core of the tooth, and can also be caused ‘intrinsically’, from inside the tooth. Intrinsic discolouration cannot be cured by brushing harder, or using abrasive substances, as the problem lies inside the tooth and can only be tackled with chemicals which can penetrate the many layers to reach the core.

There are several factors that cause intrinsic discolouration, such as trauma and prolonged use of antibiotics. In most cases, these can be solved with prolonged whitening treatments. In some more severe cases, veneers or composite bonding may be the only option to brighten teeth with intrinsic discolouring. However, your dentist will advise on the best course of treatment.

How Can I Prevent Teeth Staining?

Although it is not possible to completely avoid staining the teeth, it may be possible to mitigate the effects of some causes of discolouration.

The best way to avoid extrinsic discolouring is to ensure that you are keeping a consistent oral hygiene regime. Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and ensure that you floss after brushing.

Whilst you might want to brush your teeth after eating foods that can cause discolouration, it is important to wait at least half an hour after eating acidic foods, as not to damage the enamel on the teeth.

To prevent teeth staining, you should consume these foods and beverages in moderation. Alongside brushing, there are other ways to mitigate staining. For instance, using a straw when drinking beverages which cause discolouration can help to avoid extrinsic staining. Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely avoid this, but it could help the beverage to bypass the teeth.


How Can Professional Teeth Whitening Help?

Whilst it is possible to mitigate some causes of teeth discolouration, professional teeth whitening is the only way to tackle both intrinsic and extrinsic discolouring. Professional whitening is a non-invasive procedure, which means that we will not alter your teeth in any way. There is no drilling involved and no anaesthetic injections. Teeth whitening is the most effective way to achieve a brighter smile without the use of restorative materials such as veneers.

Professional teeth whitening at Revitalise brings together a combination of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide to tackle both intrinsic and extrinsic discolouring. Having your teeth whitened by dentists is a completely safe and effective way of whitening teeth and could leave your teeth looking 3 – 6 shades lighter.

At Revitalise, we use an industry approved system created by Boutique Whitening, which can whiten teeth in just 2 – 6 weeks. Much of your treatment will take place at home, as you will be required to use the products on a daily basis. After your treatment, you can expect to see an improvement of teeth 3-6 shades lighter than at the beginning of the process.

Can teeth whitening remove stains - Revitalise Dental Centre

My Teeth Are Sensitive, Can I Still Have Teeth Whitening Treatment?

If you have sensitive teeth, it is still possible for you to have your teeth whitened by your dentist. Some over-the-counter treatments can trigger or cause sensitivity, and this might make your wary of having your teeth professionally whitened. If you have tried over-the-counter treatments and they have triggered or caused sensitivity, you should mention this to your dentist, who will be able to assess the damage and decide whether professional whitening treatment is for you.

In most cases, sensitivity caused by at-home-treatments is usually caused by ill-fitting whitening trays causing product to leak on to the gums, or overuse of teeth whitening products. When you have your teeth whitened by a dentist, you have the benefit of a plan designed by dental professionals, who can tailor your whitening treatment to your needs.

During your initial consultation you will have the opportunity to speak with your dentist about any products you may have used before and any sensitivity you may have incurred – whether or not this is related to teeth whitening. Following this, your dentist may be able to prescribe a tooth whitening program taking your sensitivity into account, but still offer an effective treatment for removing stains. In some cases, whitening is not suitable for sensitive teeth.

Why Should I Visit A Dentist For Teeth Whitening?

Professional teeth whitening does not just remove both intrinsic and extrinsic stains, it is also the only way to guarantee a safe whitening process. In recent years, there has been a rise in over-the-counter treatments and DIY whitening alternatives.

In the best case, many of these over-the-counter treatments are simply ineffective due to a lack of active ingredients to whiten teeth. In the United Kingdom, products containing more than 0.1% Hydrogen Peroxide are unavailable for over-the-counter purchase. This means many over-the-counter teeth whitening products do not have the power to effectively whiten teeth.


Over-The-Counter Treatments

There are several over-the-counter treatments available. These products have been claimed to whiten teeth at home. Aside from a lack of active ingredients, it could be harmful to proceed with a whitening program without the advice of your dentist.

Whitening Toothpastes

There are reputable, dentist approved whitening toothpastes. When used sparingly, these can safely remove surface stains. To remove stains, these toothpastes contain abrasives, which if used too often can cause damage to the enamel coating on the tooth.

Many whitening toothpastes are not dentist approved and contain fashionable ingredients such as charcoal. Charcoal has no proven ability to whiten teeth and it is thought that the ‘whitening’ effect in charcoal is an optical illusion: once the black colour is rinsed away, teeth appear whiter.

Can teeth whitening remove stains - Revitalise Dental Centre

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips have been reported to have a whitening effect on teeth. These strips are not abrasive and contain chemicals to whiten teeth. Whitening strips work by pressing a disposable strip on to the surface of the teeth leaving the chemicals to be absorbed.

Patients should be aware that whitening strips provide little to no protection for gums and in some cases can cause irritation. Although they may be effective for removing surface stains, the strips do not cover the entire tooth surface, which could lead to uneven whitening in between teeth.

Your dentist has expert knowledge and training in teeth whitening and can advise on the best level of whitening for your teeth. They can also advise on whether discolouration is intrinsic or extrinsic, which will influence the type of treatment you require.

By choosing a dentist for teeth whitening, you are not only protecting your teeth and mouth from harm, but you are also ensuring that you get the best results possible.

Why Should I Avoid Abrasives?

There are many products on the market which claim to remove stains from teeth. These products will not have any effect on intrinsic discolouration, but they can remove surface stains. You should be wary of products containing abrasives, as they can strip the enamel from the teeth and encourage over-brushing, leaving them vulnerable to more severe dental problems including:

  • Gum recession that exposes the roots
  • Sensitivity
  • Pain when eating hot or cold foods
  • Yellow or grey teeth

Whilst many toothpaste brands do contain a small amount of abrasive substances, there is a level of abrasiveness which could be harmful to your teeth, and you should avoid certain abrasives. Calcium carbonate, sodium metaphosphate, zirconium silicate, and calcium pyrophosphate are commonly used in toothpastes. If you are looking for a less abrasive toothpaste, you should avoid products containing these ingredients.


Can Whitening Remove Stains From My Veneers?

Teeth whitening only works for natural teeth. For veneers, crowns and implants, you should consult with your dentist, who will decide the best course of action and can advise on how best to clean your veneers. In many cases, stained veneers will require replacement, but your dentist will be able to advise further.

Choose Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening can successfully remove surface stains, also known as extrinsic discolouring. It is also incredibly effective for removing intrinsic discolouring by other factors. It is always best to visit your dentist for teeth whitening treatment, in order to receive a safe and effective procedure.

If you are considering a safe and effective tooth whitening procedure, consider an initial consultation with our treatment coordinator, who can advise on the next steps. At Revitalise Dental Centre, we are proud of our partnership with Boutique Whitening, a safe method for whitening teeth which can achieve incredible results. If you would like to learn more, please complete our online general enquiry form to arrange a consultation with our treatment coordinator or call us 01872 555 911.

About the author


Jason Smithson is an internationally renowned cosmetic and reconstructive dentist formerly of London’s Harley Street Medical District, he is now based in St Agnes, Cornwall where he offers dentistry, dental-education and medico-legal expert witness services. World-class crowns, veneers and direct composite resin artistry are delivered with uncompromising standards bespoke to the patient’s individual requirements. He is considered to be the ‘Dentist’s Dentist’ and regularly treats other dentists; many of whom travel from throughout the UK to see him. Dr Smithson is an ‘In Demand’ presenter and is perhaps the most prolific in the UK. He is considered by his peers to be an authority on aesthetic dentistry and has presented to audiences on every continent over the past 10 years. He is a true innovator and pioneered the use of Dental Operating Microscope in teaching Direct Resin Artistry to other dentists in the UK; he is the author of numerous articles and a book on crowns in aesthetic dentistry. Visit Jason's Website

Connect with Jason Smithson on LinkedIn.

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What our Clients say

Marion visited Revitalise to reclaim her smile with a complete implant treatment. In this video, she explains how the staff at the practice put her at ease and why she recommends Revitalise to everyone she meets.

Client: Marion
Treatment: Complete mouth secured with implants

“The minute I met Martin, I just knew he was so calm and relaxing. So then we had a discussion and Martin said what he could do and it had to be what our pocket could afford as well and we went ahead with it. The experience I had at this dentist was unbelievable, it was a journey I loved every minute of.”

Client: Dee
Treatment: Dental Implants

“There’s always smiling, handshakes, hugs and plenty of tea and coffee. They looked after my husband who was there for the day. They do the sedation and Hayley looked after me. Obviously I was unaware of exactly what they were doing, but they always make you feel so comfortable. Although you’re nervous, I don’t think I could’ve gone and got the same treatment anywhere else.”

Client: Carolyn
Treatment: Dental Implants

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