Treating the Different Types of Tooth Discoloration

Apr 8, 2015 @ 09:00 AM — by Byron Wall

A young man with bright, white teethThere are essentially two types of tooth discoloration, intrinsic and extrinsic stains. Though both intrinsic and extrinsic discoloration can leave the teeth looking dull or stained, they require different types of treatment. Fortunately, most tooth discoloration can be treated with tooth whitening treatments. Regardless of the type of discoloration you suffer from, there are a variety of treatment options available to restore the brilliance of your smile. To find out which treatment is right for you, schedule a consultation with New Mexico cosmetic dentist Byron W. Wall.  

Types of Tooth Discoloration: Extrinsic and Intrinsic Stains

Tooth discoloration is basically split into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic stains. Of the two, extrinsic stains are more common. Extrinsic stains are surface stains that are usually a result of food and drink, tobacco use, old age, and even poor oral hygiene. Intrinsic stains are deep stains often caused by poor oral hygiene or dental injury. Extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration are differentiated in the following ways:

  • Extrinsic stains: Extrinsic stains are characterized by on overall yellowing or discoloration of the teeth, and in some cases, yellowing is most noticeable along the gum line. Extrinsic staining is superficial, making it easy to treat with professional tooth whitening systems. Extrinsic stains are generally caused by the types of foods we eat and drink, tobacco use, and poor oral hygiene.  Some foods and drinks are more likely to discolor the teeth than others. Regular coffee or red wine drinkers are especially susceptible to extrinsic staining.
  • Intrinsic stains: Intrinsic stains are characterized by localized discoloration, which can look like spots on the teeth. Intrinsic stains can be caused by dental injury, enamel erosion, or poor oral hygiene. Intrinsic stains are deeper than extrinsic stains, making them harder to treat. Intrinsic stains penetrate to the dentin layer of the teeth, making it virtually impossible to remove them with teeth whitening treatments. Though teeth whitening treatments usually don't work for intrinsic stain removal, there are alternative treatment options. Porcelain veneers, dental bonding, and even porcelain dental crowns, can all be made a bright shade of white to cover and mask intrinsic stains and restore your smile.

Treating Extrinsic and Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Whether you suffer from extrinsic or intrinsic tooth discoloration, you can enjoy a bright white smile. The following treatments and dental care tips can help you achieve a vibrant smile.

  • Professional teeth whitening: Professional teeth whitening treatments can lift years of extrinsic dental stains to instantly reveal a rejuvenated smile.
  • Cosmetic dentistry treatments: For those with deep intrinsic stains, cosmetic dentistry treatments like porcelain veneers and dental bonding can create a beautifully white smile in almost no time.
  • Practice proper oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing are vital to maintaining oral health but also to reducing the risk of dental discoloration.
  • See your dentist regularly: Regular dental visits and cleanings are also beneficial to reducing the risk of dental staining and keeping your mouth healthy.
  • Avoid stain causing foods and drinks: Avoid foods and drinks, like red wine, coffee, and deeply colored berries, known to cause dental stains. If you do enjoy such foods and drinks, be sure to swish your mouth with water after consumption to help remove the discoloring particles.
  • Stop smoking: If you smoke or use tobacco, stop. Not only will it reduce your risk of tooth discoloration, it will reduce your risk for a number of overall health problems.

Enjoy a Brighter, Whiter Smile

You can have a brighter, whiter smile! Schedule a consultation with Dr. Wall today!

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