Tooth staining and whitening: what are the solutions?

tooth staining and whitening

Tooth staining and whitening continue to preoccupy the Swiss. The Swiss Society of Dentists (SSO) addresses this very subject in a recent issue ofInfodents, the journal for patients. Indeed, cosmetic dentistry plays a major role in improving the radiance of teeth and offering a radiant smile. HELVIDENT explains the causes of tooth discoloration and how to lighten your teeth without risk.

What causes tooth discoloration?

Teeth have an ivory tint that varies slightly from person to person. You should also know that canines are naturally a little darker than incisors. That said, a number of factors can cause the color to change to a darker shade. In other patients, dentists in Fribourg or Lausanne notice the appearance of stains on the teeth. Yellow or grey teeth, brown stains, black lines between gum and tooth... These are the most common problems. 

External tooth discoloration

It affects the surface of the teeth and its causes are essentially linked to lifestyle:

  • the smoking
  • excessive consumption of certain beverages that stain teeth (e.g. coffee, tea and red wine)
  • tartar
  • taking certain medications

In most cases, a simple scaling or polishing is enough to improve the appearance of your teeth.

Internal tooth discoloration

If the darkening affects the tooth structure, it usually results in :

  • age
  • heredity
  • dental trauma (blow, fall, accident...)
  • medication taken during the tooth formation period 
  • root canal treatment

To camouflage the tint, dentists may suggest internal bleaching or the fitting of ceramic prostheses.

Localized tooth discoloration

You may be surprised to learn that generalized yellowing of the teeth is not necessarily a sign of dental pathology. In fact, gray or yellow teeth can be perfectly healthy. Similarly, brown stains are often not serious.

On the other hand, if a single tooth changes color, it may signal a deeper problem. It could be tooth decayThis may be the result of an infection in the dentine or necrosis of the dental pulp, for example. Only a dentist can diagnose any dental pathology.

Tooth discoloration in children

This is an uncommon phenomenon, generally caused by hypocalcification of the enamel. It appears as brownish stains on baby teeth. An excess of fluoride or iron can also cause tooth discoloration in children. 

The different tooth whitening techniques

If your teeth are misaligned, you will need to consult an orthodontist in Fribourg or Lausanne. This specialist corrects the posture of the teeth and jaws with a functional aim that leads to aesthetic improvement. The orthodontist is your first point of contact for a flawless smile.

If you wish to get whiter teethWe recommend that you start by practicing good oral hygiene. 

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time
  • Clean interdental spaces with dental floss or brushes at least twice a week.
  • Limit your sugar intake.
  • Avoid smoking.

You can also have your teeth lightened for aesthetic reasons. Different solutions are available, depending on your situation. We recommend that you consult your dentist to check the condition of your teeth. Avoid applying over-the-counter tooth whitening product (strips, pastes, varnishes or gels). These treatments should always be carried out under professional supervision.

Home bleaching

This technique offers greater flexibility for the patient, as well as safe, long-lasting results. The dentist provides you with a custom-made tray and a lightening product to take home with you. You'll need to fill the tray with the product and wear it daily for the length of time specified by the professional. The number of days depends on the degree of whiteness you wish to achieve. The advantage is that there are no known side effects, apart from temporary tooth sensitivity. 

Office bleaching

HELVIDENT uses this technique at its dental clinic in Fribourg, its dental practice in Lausanne and its dental center in Aigle. It is based on the application of a product highly concentrated in whitening agents, which only dentists are authorized to use. Beforehand, the practitioner carries out a scaling procedure and protects the gums and mouth. To enhance the effectiveness of the whitening product, he may use a special lamp. In-office tooth whitening delivers faster, but less long-lasting results.

Internal tooth whitening (walking bleach technique)

When discoloration affects the inside of the teeth, the doctor may resort to internal tooth lightening. This method involves injecting a tiny amount of lightening agent into the root canal. The professional renews the operation after a few days until the desired shade is achieved.


Tooth whitening is not for everyone. It requires healthy teeth and gums. If you suffer from a pathology of the oral cavity (caries, gingivitis or periodontitis), this type of aesthetic treatment should be avoided. The same applies to pregnant women. 

HELVIDENT strongly encourages you to seek advice from a dentist before whitening your teeth. Make an appointment at one of our dental clinics in French-speaking Switzerland.