Tooth discoloration and stains on your teeth are common occurrences that can happen for a variety of reasons. The good news is many of these stains are treatable and preventable. Here’s what you need to know about the causes of tooth discoloration and stains and what you can do to keep pearly whites looking.
Tooth discoloration falls into three different categories which are: extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related tooth discoloration.
Extrinsic tooth discoloration.
It’s likely that the stains are only affecting the tooth enamel or the surface of the tooth. The most common causes of extrinsic stains include a certain type of food drinks which can move into the outer layers of your tooth structure and stain your teeth. Some of the most common tooth-staining culprits include red sauces, red wine, tea, coffee, or even chocolate; tobacco use in the form of cigarettes or chewing tobacco can also cause tooth discoloration. An acidic environment in the mouth can make your enamel more prone to discoloration.
Intrinsic tooth discoloration.
The intrinsic stain is located within the tooth, which makes it more resistant to over-the-counter whitening products. It often appears greyish. Examples of intrinsic stains include a certain type of medication, it could be trauma or injury to the tooth, tooth decay, too much fluoride, or genetics.
Age-related tooth discoloration.
When you age, the enamel on your teeth begins to wear away, resulting in a yellow appearance. Many times, both extrinsic and intrinsic factors may cause age-related discoloration.
If you’re wondering what’s causing the discoloration of teeth, here are some insights into what can cause surface stains on your teeth.
- If it’s yellow in color, it could be due to the people who smoke or chew tobacco. Beverages like tea, coffee, or red wine a diet, that’s high in simple sugar, certain medications, poor oral hygiene, or dry mouth for a long period of time can also cause yellow discoloration.
- If it’s a brown spot or discoloration it can have many causes. Some of the most common causes include tobacco use, beverages like tea, coffee, cola, and red wine, fruits like blueberries, blackberries, and pomegranates. Untreated tooth decay or tartar build-up.
- For white discoloration, a cavity can cause a white spot on the tooth that turns darker and becomes more advanced. On the other hand, too much fluoride can also produce white spots on your teeth.
- An advanced dental cavity, fillings or crowns that contains silver sulfide or liquid iron supplements can be cause a black spot or stain .
- If your tooth stains purple in color it could be patients who regularly consume wine, who tend to have more of a purple undertone to their teeth.
What you can do to get rid of these stains?
There are many products and procedures that can whiten your teeth and eliminate or reduce the appearance 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.
- For at-home treatments through your dentist, some dentists can make custom trays to use on your teeth at home. You’ll add a gel to the tray and wear it on your teeth for up to one hour a day or as recommended by your dentist. You may need to wear the trays for a few weeks to achieve the desired results.
- Lastly is the over-the-counter products. Whitening toothpaste and whitening strips may be available to diminish the surface stains but are much less effective on intrinsic stains that are located inside your teeth.
- It’s always recommended to talk to your dentist before trying out any teeth whitening products to ensure they are safe for you. Some products can cause food sensitivity or gum imitation.
When should you see a dentist?
- If you notice a change in the color 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 your staining appears to be deep and if no over-the-counter whitening agents are able to get rid of the staining, it could be something more serious, such as a cavity or demineralization of the enamel.
- It may be due to a cavity or an injury to the inside of the tooth if only one tooth is discolored. The sooner these types of issues get treated by your dentist, the better the outcome will likely be.
See your dentist twice a year for routine exams. It’s usually during these types of appointments that problems are discovered. When treatment is early it can help to prevent the issues from becoming more complicated.