Tooth Discoloration Types

Apr 24, 2015 @ 09:00 AM — by Sharon B. Mateja, D.D.S.

A woman with a bright, white smile taking a selfie If you suffer from tooth discoloration, you may want to undergo teeth whitening treatments. Teeth whitening can remove surface stains and restore the brilliance of the smile. However, if you have deeper stains, teeth whitening may not be most suitable option. Instead, porcelain veneers or a composite resin material can be applied to mask discoloration. To find out which treatment is right for you and learn more about the types of tooth discoloration, schedule a consultation with Rancho Cucamonga dentist Sharon B. Mateja.

The Different Types of Tooth Discoloration

Tooth discoloration has many causes, from the foods we eat to how we care for our teeth. When it comes to tooth discoloration, there are two different types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains are deep within the dentin layer of the teeth, whereas extrinsic stains are superficial. Intrinsic stains don't respond to teeth whitening as well as extrinsic stains, but they can be treated with alternative options. Extrinsic and intrinsic stains are characterized as follows:

  • Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration: Intrinsic stains may only affect a single tooth or certain areas of a tooth. For example, patients may have white spots on the tooth, or one tooth that is noticeably darker than surrounding teeth. Intrinsic stains can occur as a result of poor oral hygiene, the use of certain medications, overexposure to fluoride, or dental injury. It doesn't respond well to teeth whitening treatments since discoloration is uneven and deep within the tooth. Fortunately, intrinsic stains can be treated with porcelain veneers or dental bonding.
  • Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration: Extrinsic stains are more common then intrinsic stains. They result from the foods and drinks we consume, tobacco use, and poor oral hygiene. Extrinsic discoloration is recognized by on overall yellowing of the teeth. Extrinsic stains are superficial, surface stains and are easily treated with professional teeth whitening treatments. 

Tooth Discoloration Treatments and Prevention

Tooth discoloration is a natural part of the aging process, but it can be treated and steps can be taken to reduce discoloration. The following treatments and prevention tips can help you achieve a bright white smile for years to come:

  • Professional whitening treatment: Professional whitening can lift years of extrinsic stains in as little as one treatment.
  • Porcelain veneers or dental bonding: Intrinsic stains can be masked with tooth-colored restorations like porcelain veneers and dental bonding.
  • Proper oral hygiene: Proper oral hygiene is key to removing plaque, bacteria, and food remnants, which can lead to dental discoloration. Brush twice a day and floss once a day to reduce the risk of discoloration and other dental issues.
  • Avoid certain foods and drinks: Red wine and coffee are two of the biggest culprits for tooth discoloration, but soft drinks and dark berries can also discolor the teeth. Avoid foods that discolor the teeth or be sure to rinse your mouth with water after consumption.
  • Stop tobacco use: Tobacco use of any kind greatly discolors the teeth. You should quit smoking to keep your teeth white, but more importantly for the overall health benefits.
  • See your dentist regularly: See your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings to maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.

Enjoy a Bright Smile

Regardless of the type of tooth discoloration you suffer from, there are many treatment options to restore your smile. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Mateja to discuss your treatment options.

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