Teeth whitening may be done at home or at hospital

I have been smoking for three years now and my teeth have been stained. Though I am trying to quit, I am unable to. Could you tell me if going for teeth whitening could help? If it does, how many times a year do I have to get my teeth whitened? And is it very expensive?

— Angela

Teeth  staining is a common dental problem. Apart from smoking, drinking of coloured beverages such as coffee or tea, can also stain teeth brown or black.

Orange stain on the teeth surface is due to stain produced by the organism in dental plaque. Regular dental scaling, reducing coffee or tea, and stopping or reducing smoking can prevent tooth staining in some cases.

Tooth whitening can be done both at home and in hospital setting. In both the cases, peroxide-based bleaching agents are used.

Self use whitening product contain from 3-20 per cent peroxide, while office whitening agents contain 15-43 per cent peroxide. Generally, the longer you keep a stronger solution on your teeth, the whiter your teeth become. However, the higher the percentage of peroxide in the whitening solution, the shorter it should be applied to the teeth. Keeping the gel on longer will dehydrate the tooth and increase tooth sensitivity. There are pros and cons to each option, but before you try at-home tooth-bleaching kits, be sure to talk to your dentist. Not everyone will see good results.

Teeth whitening assisted by heat and light done by the dentist, can get teeth brighter faster and in a controlled manner without damaging the enamel.