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The Three Main Causes Of Tooth Discoloration

Posted by DR. GURI S. DHALIWAL on Apr 18 2016, 09:26 PM

Americans spend billions of dollars each year in the battle against tooth discoloration. From professional cosmetic procedures to
over-the-counter teeth-whitening products, the stain removal business is booming. For those considering a smile makeover, the
effectiveness of the treatment is often determined by the cause of the staining. Here are the three most common culprits.

Extrinsic Staining

The most familiar and noticeable cause of discoloration, extrinsic staining occurs when the hard surface of teeth, the enamel, is affected from the outside. In other words, certain foods and drinks leave their mark on the white enamel of teeth, causing them to lose their luster. Cola, coffee, wine, berries, and tomato sauce are everyday offenders that can rob a charming smile of its allure. It is important to note that bad habits, such as smoking, can also result in extensive dental discoloration.

Intrinsic Staining

A smile makeover may be more challenging if the inner structure of the teeth, the dentin, has darkened. Patients are most at risk if they:

  • Had a physical trauma to the affected tooth during childhood
  • Were exposed to high levels of fluoride at an early age
  • Used tetracycline antibiotics at the age of eight or younger
  • Were exposed to tetracycline antibiotics in the womb
  • Were born with an uncommon medical condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta that causes permanent dental discoloration
  • Had an accident that resulted in internal bleeding that discolored the affected tooth

Age-Related Staining

Even when a person takes excellent care of their teeth, there’s a good chance they will fade. The reason? With time, the tooth enamel gets thinner and the dentin assumes a yellowish tint. As such, teeth will not have the same healthy white shine they did in earlier days. This combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors is typically more difficult to deal with than either one or the other.

Treatment Options

As mentioned, most tooth discoloration can be removed during a smile makeover. Examples of these stains include coffee, wine, and even tobacco staining. But when the discoloration is intrinsic, or inside the tooth, it can be much more difficult to remove with bleaching and whitening gels. With that said, the problem can almost always be addressed. For example, in cases of extreme discoloration, a veneer or crown can be used to conceal it.

Talk to a cosmetic dentist to learn more about the causes of tooth discoloration and treatment options.

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