There’s nothing more beautiful than a big, confident smile. But what if your pearly whites aren’t so… white? Teeth staining is a common complaint we hear from patients. It’s easy to feel self-conscious about tooth stains, but there are also several options to prevent and treat discolored teeth. Today we’ll be discussing the top causes of stained teeth, and also provide some tips on how you can keep your smile bright.
Common Causes of Stained Teeth
There are several ways that teeth can become stained or discolored. Surface stains are the most common cause, while evolving tooth material is another. Dentists classify tooth stains as extrinsic, intrinsic, or age-related. Read more about each type of staining below.
Extrinsic Tooth Stains
Extrinsic staining occurs on the outermost layer of the tooth enamel. These types of stains are commonly caused by smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and drinking red wines, dark sodas, or coffee. Particles of these products are prone to sticking to the surface of the tooth.
Fortunately, extrinsic tooth stains respond well to regular tooth brushing and good overall dental hygiene. If your teeth are stained from beverages or tobacco use, consider using a whitening toothpaste to give your teeth an extra sparkle.
Unlike extrinsic stains, intrinsic staining occurs when the inside of the tooth, called the dentin, begins to darken and yellow. Several factors can cause intrinsic stains, including:
- Ingesting too much fluoride as a child
- Trauma to the affected tooth during development
- Internal bleeding in the tooth
- Tetracycline antibiotics in early childhood
Intrinsic stains can be more stubborn to treat than extrinsic since the stains are below the surface of the tooth. Good oral hygiene is still important, but you may need to ask your general dentist if professional or at-home teeth whitening or teeth bleaching kits would be a good fit for you.
Unfortunately, age plays a large role in the discoloration of our teeth. Age-related stains are a natural part of the aging process and are produced by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic stains. As you age, the dentin in your teeth will begin to naturally yellow over time and the enamel will begin to thin. This allows the darker dentin to become more visible, causing the teeth to appear yellow.
How to Prevent Teeth Staining
Teeth can be bleached and whitened, but it takes time (and money!) to obtain results. The best way to treat stained teeth is to prevent your teeth from staining in the first place.
Extrinsic stains are impossible to avoid completely, but you can lessen your chances of tooth discoloration by choosing to drink water over dark sodas and coffee. If you choose to drink these beverages, try using a straw or rinsing out your mouth immediately after finishing your drink.
As we mentioned above, tobacco products are major culprits in causing tooth staining, along with multiple other dental and general health issues. Cutting the use of tobacco products will greatly help prevent tooth staining and also help protect your overall health.
Keep up with your regular dentist appointments every six months to stay on top of the development of any dental issues that might cause intrinsic stains. Seeking fast treatment whenever you experience a dental injury is important to preventing staining as well.
Conveniently Located Care When You Need It Most
Your general dentist will be able to help guide you in the best methods for whitening your stained teeth. If your oral health requires more advanced procedures, our team of highly skilled endodontic specialists is ready to restore your smile. Our patient-centered offices are located in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. When you’re ready to restore your smile, contact our office to discuss how we can help!