The underlying health of your mouth, teeth, and gums is important, but you should also spend some time on your smile's overall look. Since many common drinks, foods, and habits can stain your teeth, you most likely have suffered with tooth discoloration. While surprising to learn, there are 3 different types of discoloration that can affect your smile. Removing these stains is possible, but you should first determine which type of discoloration is affecting your teeth. Using this guide, you will understand each type of discoloration and learn the best options for restoring your teeth back to a white, bright, and clean state.
The most common form of tooth discoloration is extrinsic, which means the outer enamel is stained.
In most cases, extrinsic stains stem from the consumption of coffee, tea, wine, soda, and smoking or chewing tobacco products.
Since extrinsic stains are superficial, removing the discoloration will involve a few simple options. Your dentist can conduct an LED whitening treatment to remove these surface stains. During this procedure, a bleaching agent is applied to the surface of your teeth. Then, a specialized light is focused onto the gel, activating the bleach. An LED whitening treatment will not only remove extrinsic stains, but it will also brighten the overall white color of your tooth enamel.
Bleaching is not only effective in removing stains in 90 percent of patients, but it is also a more convenient option, since it allows you to whiten your teeth at home. Visit your dentist for a custom tray that fits your mouth. Once the tray is created, apply the bleaching gel to the tray before placing it into your mouth to wear for a few hours. The bleach works through the stains, removing surface discoloration while whitening your teeth.
Dentin is the sensitive underlying tissue of the tooth enamel. If the dentin stains, it may be seen through weakened enamel. Known as intrinsic, these stains first develop under the actual tooth enamel. Here are a few causes of intrinsic stains:
- Exposure to excessive amounts of fluoride during childhood
- Use of tetracycline antibiotics, which contain chemicals that react abnormally with your teeth, in childhood before the age of 7 or 8
- Use of tetracycline antibiotics by your mother during pregnancy
- Trauma to a primary tooth during childhood
- Trauma to a permanent tooth, which can cause bleeding inside the tooth
In addition, you may suffer with intrinsic staining if you have Dentinogenesis imperfecta. This rare condition prevents the dentin from forming normally, resulting in stains that appear blue, gray, and yellow.
Unfortunately, whitening strips, toothpastes, and rinses will not remove these deeper stains, so you will need to visit a dentist for a more involved treatment. LED whitening may decrease the dark stains on the dentin, but you may require a bonding treatment. Bonding covers the tooth in a natural composite material, which reduces the appearance of the dentin stains.
Your entire body changes as you age and these changes can also affect your teeth. As you age, the dentin darkens while your enamel weakens and thins.
The darker dentin will easily show through thinning enamel. However, the loss of enamel increases your risk of superficial staining from coffee, tea, soda, wine, and the use of tobacco products.
To restore your aging teeth back to a whiter and brighter state, your dentist will suggest a few treatments. Discolored dentin will require professional whitening treatments. Restoring the surface enamel through bonding is a smart option, as well. Bonding will protect the underlying dentin and enamel from further staining as you age.
Tooth stains may be common, but you most likely do not fully understand this dental issue. With this guide and the help of a cosmetic dentist, you can understand and treat the 3 types of tooth stains.