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.
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:
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.
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.