Tooth discoloration is a common cosmetic concern that can affect your smile and confidence. Discolored teeth can have various causes, some of which are preventable and some of which are not. In this blog post, we will explain the different types of tooth discoloration, the common causes, and how to treat them.
Types of Tooth Discoloration
There are two main types of tooth discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic discoloration affects the outer surface of your teeth, called the enamel. It is usually caused by exposure to certain foods, drinks, or other products that can stain your teeth over time. Some sources of extrinsic stains are:
- Coffee, tea, red wine, and other dark-colored beverages
- Berries, tomato sauce, curry, and other dark-colored foods
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
Extrinsic stains are usually easier to remove with regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleaning.
Intrinsic discoloration occurs within the inner layer of your teeth, called the dentin. It is usually caused by factors that affect the development or structure of your teeth. Some sources of intrinsic stains are:
- Trauma or injury to a tooth that damages the nerve or blood vessels
- Excessive fluoride intake during childhood that causes white spots on the enamel
- Certain medications, such as tetracycline antibiotics, that can discolor the teeth of children or unborn babies
- Aging, genetics, or diseases that affect the color or thickness of the enamel or dentin
Intrinsic stains are more resistant and may require more intensive treatments.
How to Treat Tooth Discoloration
If you already have discolored teeth, don't worry. There are many options available to improve your smile. Depending on the type and severity of your stains, you may benefit from one or more of the following treatments:
These are over-the-counter or prescription products that contain bleaching agents that can lighten your teeth by several shades. They come in various forms, such as toothpaste, strips, trays, gels, or rinses. They are usually effective for extrinsic stains but may not work well for intrinsic stains.
This is a professional treatment that involves applying a high concentration of bleaching agent to your teeth under the supervision of a dentist. It can whiten your teeth by several shades in one or more sessions. It can also treat some intrinsic stains but may not be suitable for everyone.
These are thin, tooth-shaped devices that are fashioned from composite resin or porcelain and are attached to your teeth's front surfaces. They can cover any stains or imperfections and give you a natural-looking smile. They are custom-made for each tooth and require some preparation of the enamel.
These are caps that cover the entire visible part of your tooth. They can restore the color of your tooth regardless of the source of the discoloration. They are usually made of porcelain or metal and require some removal of the tooth structure.
If you suffer from dental discoloration, contact a dentist in your local area.