Tooth Discoloration

Tooth Discoloration

What is Tooth Discoloration?

Tooth discoloration refers to the staining or darkening of your teeth. You can develop discoloured teeth for several reasons. Some causes are unavoidable — like aging, trauma, or disease. Other causes are preventable — like smoking and poor oral hygiene.

There are two main types of tooth discoloration:

Extrinsic discoloration:

This type of discoloration affects the outer surface of your teeth (enamel).

Exposure to certain environmental factors — like some foods and beverages — causes intrinsically discoloured teeth.

Intrinsic discoloration:

This type of discoloration starts inside your tooth and affects your dentin (the layer underneath your enamel). Causes include dental trauma and certain medications.

Possible Causes

What are the most common causes of discoloured teeth?

Several things can cause discoloured teeth. Some causes are avoidable. Others are unavoidable.

Avoidable tooth discoloration causes include:

1. Dark-coloured foods and beverages:

Things like coffee, tea, berries, red wine, and soy sauce can stain your teeth over time.

2. Smoking and other tobacco use:

Research indicates that tooth discoloration is more common among people who smoke compared to people who don’t.

3. Poor oral hygiene:

Stains cling to dental plaque. If you don’t remove plaque with regular brushing and flossing, you’re more likely to develop discoloured teeth.

4. Excessive fluoride:

In appropriate quantities, fluoride is an excellent way to protect your teeth from cavities. However, people who consume high levels of fluoride during childhood

may develop fluorosis — a condition that results in white spots on your tooth enamel.

Unavoidable tooth discoloration causes include:

1. Genetics:

Natural tooth colour, brightness and translucency vary from person to person.

2. Dental trauma:

Falls, car crashes and sports-related injuries can cause trauma that results intooth discoloration.

3. Aging:

As you grow older, your tooth enamel wears thinner. This exposes more of the underlying dentin, which has a yellowish hue. As a result, your teeth may appear slightly more discoloured as you age.

4. Dental treatments:

Some dental materials — like silver amalgam used in metal fillings — can make your teeth appear greyish in colour. Root canal therapy can also cause tooth discoloration in some instances.

5. Certain diseases:

Some health conditions cause teeth discoloration, including liver disease, celiac disease, calcium deficiency, eating disorders and metabolic diseases.

6. Certain medications:

Some medications, like certain antihistamines and drugs for high blood pressure, can result in teeth discoloration. In addition, adults who took tetracycline or doxycycline (both antibiotics) during childhood may have tooth discoloration.

7. Cancer treatments:

Chemotherapy or head and neck radiation therapy can cause tooth discoloration.

What can you do to get rid of stains?

There are many products and procedures that can whiten your teeth and eliminate or reduce theappearance of stains. Generally speaking, teeth whitening options fall into three broad categories. They include:

In-office treatment:

Your dentist will typically use a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening compared with at-home products. In-office treatment works quickly and the effects usually last longer than other methods.

At-home treatments recommended by your dentist:

Some dentists can make custom trays to use for your at-home whitening treatment. Whitening gel is added onto the tray and applied as per the product instructions or as recommended by your dentist.

Over-the-counter products:

Whitening toothpastes and whitening strips may be able to reduce surface stains but are much less effective on intrinsic stains that are located inside your teeth.

Additionally, make sure to visit your dentist for regular dental cleanings. Regular checkups and cleanings can often help to reduce the appearance of stains and spots.

When should you see a dentist?

If you notice a change in the colour of your teeth and it doesn’t get better with a whitening product, it’s a good idea to follow up with your dentist.

If only one tooth is discoloured, it may be due to a cavity or an injury to the inside of your tooth. The sooner these types of issues get treated by your dentist, the better the outcome will likely be. To keep your teeth in good health, see your dentist twice a year for routine exams. Usually, it is during these appointments that problems are discovered. When treatment is done early, it can help prevent the issue from becoming more complicated.

Dr Harindren Subramaniam - Dentalpro - Dental Specialist Centre

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