Most Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Most Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Most people suffer some degree of tooth discoloration in their lives. Discoloration is a direct consequence of the food and drinks we consume, and our lifestyle in general. But, discoloration need not be permanent, and a cosmetic dentist can help restore a smile’s natural brilliance with a range of treatments, including teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.

Tooth discoloration can be categorized into three main types: extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related. Extrinsic discoloration occurs in the outer layer of the tooth, called the enamel. It is commonly the result of food and drink, such as coffee, red wine and soda but can also be attributed to tobacco use.

Discoloration is a direct consequence of the food and drinks we consume, and our lifestyle in general.

Intrinsic discoloration affects the inner structure of the tooth, called the dentin. This can occur through over-exposure to fluorite treatments, the use of tetracycline-based antibiotics, tooth trauma, or even genetics. Dentin stains are more difficult to treat, and often require concealment.

Age-related discoloration is, as the name implies, a natural discoloration which occurs as we get older. Age-related discoloration is a combination of both extrinsic and intrinsic staining – dentin naturally begins to discolor over time, while tooth enamel becomes thinner with age, leading to discolored dentin showing through and becoming more prominent.

Some minor extrinsic staining can be treated with specially formulated toothpastes, but for more stubborn stains, a whitening treatment is often recommended as it will produce much better results than any toothpaste can muster.

Tooth whitening can be done at-home or professionally by a cosmetic dentist. Over time, teeth are treated with bleaching agents which penetrate into the teeth, removing stains from the enamel of the teeth. Whitening treatments can also remove some dentin staining, depending on the cause.

Some enamel staining, however, such as those caused by root canal treatment, are unaffected by tooth bleaching, and will require concealment treatment, similar to treating dentin discoloration.

Dentin staining is often best concealed using porcelain veneers. These are small tooth coverings that a cosmetic dentist shapes and shades to match the patient’s existing teeth. After preparing the affected tooth to receive the veneer, it is bonded into place, giving a natural-looking appearance and restoring the smile to its former appearance.

Whatever the cause of tooth discoloration, a cosmetic dentist can help.

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