A bright, healthy smile free of yellowing or stains communicates well-being. But because of both internal and external conditions, teeth can lose their once shiny, white appearance and be left discolored or dulled. Learn what causes tooth discoloration, what can be reversed, what can’t, and what you can do to restore your smile.
Types of Tooth Discoloration
When we’re born, our teeth are white. However, as we age, our teeth can begin to lose their brightness and become discolored or dull in nature. Our teeth can change colors as a result of stains found on the surface or due to actual changes of material of the tooth. Crest explains the three main categories of tooth discoloration to be:
Extrinsic Teeth Stains
This type of stain is on the surface of the tooth. This happens when pigmented residue, from foods or drinks, build up in the film of proton that covers the tooth enamel. Extrinsic tooth stains are most commonly caused by food and drinks (like coffee, wine, and soda) and tobacco use. This type of discoloration typically responds well to dental cleanings and using daily whitening toothpastes.
Intrinsic Teeth Stains
An intrinsic tooth stain occurs below the surface of the tooth. This happens when stain-causing particles work through the exterior of the tooth and accumulate within the enamel. Excessive fluoride use has also been noted as a cause of intrinsic teeth stains, especially in children. An intrinsic tooth stain is harder to remove, but not impossible. To rid these stains, we recommend professional teeth whitening.
Age-Related Teeth Stains
This type of tooth discoloration is a combination of the two just discussed. Due to the nature of our teeth, the dentin naturally yellows over time with age. As we get older, the enamel that covers the tooth becomes thinner and allows the yellow dentin to show through.
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
Teeth can stain and change colors because of many reasons. Let’s face it, not all of us eat a healthy diet and floss each day like we should. Oftentimes, the things we eat and drink are to blame for our smile changing colors. While some causes of discolored teeth can be prevented, other causes can be genetic. Here are the common stains we see and what typically causes them:
Yellow: people who smoke and chew tobacco often see yellow stains. Additionally, those who drink beverages like tea, coffee, soda, take certain medications, have chronic dry mouth, and poor oral hygiene can also see yellow stains.
Brown: discoloration or spots on the teeth that are brown are typically caused by tobacco, beverages like tea, coffee, soda, and red wine, fruits like blueberries, untreated tooth decay, tartar buildup, and more.
White: white spots on the teeth can occur due to untreated cavities. Additionally, too much fluoride can also cause white spots on the teeth.
Black: stains or spots that are black are caused by advanced dental cavities, fillings and crowns that contain silver sulfide, and liquid iron supplements.
Purple: those who regularly drink red wine can see purple-toned staining on their teeth.
Teeth Whitening Options
Thankfully, stained teeth don’t have to be permanent. If you have tooth discoloration that you want to get rid of, our offices provide several different treatment options that can help reverse some or most of your discoloration to give you a brighter smile.
At Young Family Dental, we provide in-office and at-home teeth whitening services so you can choose what best fits your schedule, lifestyle, and needs. We use ZOOM! teeth whitening which can lighten your teeth up to six shades in as little as an hour.
If you want to fully makeover your smile, we also offer porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers can cover stained and discolored teeth, but it can also help patients who have teeth that are cracked, chipped, misaligned, and more.
Make an Appointment with Young Family Dental
Proper teeth whitening is valuable for your health and your self-confidence. Trust our 48 years of experience! At Young Family Dental, we want to give you a smile that you’re proud to wear. Make an appointment today to learn more about how we can correct any tooth discoloration that you don’t want on your teeth: