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Different Types of Tooth Discoloration and How They Can Be Treated

May 30, 2014

Tooth Discoloration Types - Dental Stain Causes and Whitening Treatment OptionsThere is more to cosmetic problems than you may have guessed, which is why it's important to meet with a dentist about all of your options for advanced dental care. This will help you learn more about the cosmetic dentistry treatments that can brighten your smile and remove stains while also addressing other kinds of aesthetic flaws in the process.

One of the most common dental problems that people want to have treated is tooth discoloration. There are a number of things people don't think about with regard to tooth discoloration, and we'd like to take a few moments right now to look at the different kinds of discoloration that may occur.

Extrinsic Discoloration vs. Intrinsic Discoloration

Broadly, there are two kinds of tooth discoloration.

  • Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration – This refers to tooth discoloration and stains that originate on the surface layer of the teeth.
  • Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration – This refers to tooth discoloration and stains that originate from within the tooth's structure.

Both extrinsic and intrinsic stains have different causes, and the kind of stain that a person suffers from will determine the ideal treatment option for their needs.

Dental Stains Caused By Tobacco Products

Tobacco products can lead to major extrinsic stains, causing the teeth to look brown or yellow. There are already plenty of compelling health reasons to avoid cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, and these aesthetic issues are also worth considering.

Dental Stains Caused by Foods and Beverages

A number of common foods and beverages have been known to cause extrinsic stains as well. These include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Colas
  • Red wine
  • Beets
  • Curries
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries
  • Tomatoes

In essence, if it can stain a white shirt badly, it can lead to gradual dental stains over time.

Dental Stains Caused by Medications

Medications of varying kinds can cause intrinsic dental stains to occur. Some common medications that cause tooth discoloration include:

  • Tetracycline
  • Doxycycline
  • Antihistamines
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Antihypertensive drugs

Dental Stains Caused by Fluoride

Fluoride can cause intrinsic and extrinsic dental stains, though not in the way that you'd think. Rather than yellow or brown stains, overexposure to fluoride can lead to chalky and over-white patches on the teeth.

Dental Stains Caused by Tooth Decay and Injury

Dental problems can cause stains to occur, some extrinsic (such as those causes by cavities and tooth decay) and some intrinsic (such as those caused by root canal infections).

Dental Stains Caused by the Natural Aging Process

Over time, wear, tear, and combinations of the various factors above can lead to tooth discoloration and gradual stains appearing on the smile. This is normal, though it can be minimized or even treated.

Options for Dealing with Tooth Discoloration and Stains

For most extrinsic stains and discoloration, professional teeth whitening treatment can work wonders and brighten the teeth up to eight shades. When stains are especially dark, porcelain veneers may be a more ideal solution. For intrinsic stains, porcelain veneers tend to be a better option for masking the discoloration from view.

When the discoloration is related to tooth decay or tooth injury, the best option is a restorative treatment that rebuilds tooth structure and masks the aesthetic flaw from view, such as a dental crown, an inlay, or an onlay.

Learn More About Your Options for Cosmetic Dentistry

If you would like more information about the different kinds of tooth discoloration that people can experience and how our team can help you achieve a more appealing smile, be sure to contact our Reston, VA cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. Our team will carefully assess your dental care needs and help you look your very best in the process.

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