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牙齒美白并不代表牙齒健康

Why having white teeth doesn't mean they are healthy
牙齒美白并不代表牙齒健康

Most of us would like to have a gleaming white smile, filled with teeth that would make a Hollywood actor proud. Studies show that 18-52% of people are dissatisfied with the colour of their teeth.

每個人都希望擁有如同好萊塢明星般整齊潔白的牙齒。有研究表明,有18-52%的人對自己的牙齒色澤不滿意。

In countries such as the US, tooth whitening is one of the most commonly requested dental procedures, while the British are often the butt of jokes about yellowing gnashers. Rows of perfect teeth beam out from magazines and cinema screens around the world.

在美國等國家,牙齒漂白是牙科診所最常見的業務之一。英國人因為牙齒發黃,經常成為段子里嘲笑的對象。在世界各地,出現雜志封面和電影銀幕上的明星無不在炫耀著他們完美無瑕的牙齒。

It is hardly surprising then, that we tend to assume that white teeth are not only attractive, but healthy. The hue of our teeth depends on their intrinsic colour, influenced in part by our genes and our age, combined with stains from smoking, eating, drinking and taking certain medications. As you get older your teeth often become yellower as the enamel begins to wear away, exposing the dentine beneath.

好像人們已經認定了一個事實:潔白的牙齒不僅能夠提升個人魅力,同時也是身體健康的體現。牙齒的顏色取決于其固有色,而牙齒固有色主要是由基因和年齡決定的,其他作用因素還有吸煙、飲食、飲酒及藥物等等。隨和年齡的增長,牙釉質出現磨損,牙本質開始逐漸暴露,從而使牙齒發黃。

Green fur

綠垢

Stains then overlay the yellowing teeth, with foods such as tomato-based sauces and coffee leaving behind coloured compounds called chromogens, while bacteria or fungi can cause green, greyish, furry looking stains.

接下來,發黃的牙齒會被色素染色。番茄醬和咖啡等有色食物中包含的色原體,以及細菌或真菌都會在牙齒表面留下綠色和灰色的絨毛狀色斑。

Many of the experiments on tooth colour have been conducted in laboratory test tubes, rather than in the mouths of living people. Often cows’ teeth are used because they give researchers with a larger surface area to study, but sometimes extracted human teeth are tested too.

許多關于牙齒顏色的實驗都是在實驗室試管內,而不是在人體口腔內完成的。科研人員也會使用尺寸較大的牛齒,但有時也使用脫落的人齒。

One study conducted by Mark Wolff from New York University soaked cows’ teeth for an hour in black tea, red wine or white wine in various configurations. It was no surprise that the red wine left the strongest stains. Surprisingly, the black tea didn’t stain the teeth unless it had been preceded by white wine. It seems the acid content of the wine was making the enamel slightly more porous, allowing the tea to leave its mark.

紐約大學的馬克·沃爾夫(Mark Wolff)曾做了一項實驗:把牛齒浸泡在紅茶、紅葡萄酒或白葡萄酒的不同組合里并保持一小時。毫無意外,紅葡萄酒留下的色斑最重。然而出人意外的是,除非和白葡萄酒混合,否則紅茶不會在牙齒表面留下色斑。其原因似乎是:葡萄酒中的酸性成分會讓牙釉質變得略微孔洞化,從而讓紅茶留下色斑。

These food and drink-based stains may discolour teeth, but they don’t indicate that the teeth are unhealthy. You can have pearly white teeth and still have gum infections or cavities. Likewise, you can have perfectly healthy teeth which are off-white, yellowish or even brownish.

這些由食物和飲料引起的色斑會導致牙齒變色,但并不意味著牙齒不健康。很多擁有潔白牙齒的人仍然有牙齦感染或齲齒等口腔問題。同樣,十分健康的牙齒也會呈現暗白色、黃色甚至深黃色。

Black stain

黑斑

There is even one type of stain that some researchers believe might protect against tooth decay. This is the dark edge you sometimes see along teeth at the margins of the gum line. It can look like a series of dark dots. It’s known as “black stain”.

有研究者認為,甚至有一種色斑能夠防止齲齒。這就是牙齒在與牙齦接觸處的暗色邊緣。它看起來像是一系列暗點,人們將其稱為"黑斑"。

While the cause of black stain has debated for more than a century, the latest thinking is that it’s a special kind of dental plaque comprising calcium, phosphate, various bacteria and some form of iron or copper compound, which gives rise to the black colour.

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關于產生黑斑的原因,人們已經討論了一個多世紀。最新觀點認為,它是一種包含鈣、硫、各種細菌和某種鐵和銅化合物的特殊牙斑,鐵和銅是形成黑色的原因。

Curiously, some studies – although not all – have found that children with black stain are less likely to have tooth decay. It’s thought that microbes in the stain might be somehow protective.

有趣的是,有研究發現牙齒有黑斑的兒童患蛀牙的概率更小。有人認為,黑斑內的微生物可能有保護牙齒的功效。

Of course, in some cases discolouration can indicate decay or other disease, so it is worth getting stains checked out by a dentist. But just as white teeth aren’t necessarily healthy, off-colour teeth aren’t necessarily bad either.

當然,有時牙齒變色也是齲齒或其他疾病的表現,因此應當去看牙醫檢查牙齒變色原因。正如白色牙齒不一定意味著健康一樣,變色的牙齒也不一定意味著牙齒有病。

So, what if you still want gleaming white teeth, regardless of what they say about your health? There are whole a range of whitening interventions from toothpastes, strips, gels and trays to wear around your teeth at night. Most contain abrasive substances that rub off stains or bleaching, or a combination of both.  Some even contain a substance which adds a blueish tinge to the teeth to counteract any yellowness, resulting in teeth that appear even whiter.

那么,要是不管健康與否,一門心思想要一口潔白的牙齒呢?要想讓牙齒變白,有一系列措施:美白牙膏、牙齒美白貼片、美白膠和夜晚佩戴的美白牙套等等。大多數美白產品都包含研磨材料,能夠去除牙菌斑并漂白牙齒,或者兼而有之。某些產品甚至包含藍色染料,能夠與牙齒的黃色相互中和,提高牙齒的白度。

Professionals tend to offer treatments that use stronger bleaching agents than you can find in home treatments. But reviews of the range of treatments available show that efficacy varies considerably. Bleaching can also cause temporary sensitivity in some people’s teeth or gums.

專業牙齒美白診所使用家里沒有的高效能漂白劑。但是對現有治療手段進行調查發現,漂白劑對不同人的美白效果差別巨大。另外,漂白還會造成某些人的牙齒或牙齦暫時敏感。

And of course, unless you continue with a treatment, the whiteness will only last for as long as you avoid the foods and drinks that cause the stains in the first place.

當然,漂白效果只能保存一時。除非定期去漂白,否則一旦食用了會染色的食物或飲料,之前的美白效果就到此為止。

But at least you know that even without that Hollywood white smile, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have healthy teeth.

至少你已經知道,雖然你的牙齒沒有好萊塢明星那樣光彩照人,但這并不意味著你的牙齒不健康。

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