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Stained Teeth

Your teeth can become discoloured by stains on the surface or by changes inside the tooth. There are three main types of tooth discoloration:

  • Extrinsic - This occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained. Tea, Coffee, wine, other drinks or foods can Stained Teeth. Smoking also causes extrinsic stains.

  • Intrinsic - This is when the inner structure of the tooth (the dentine) darkens or gets a yellow tint. You can get this type of discoloration due to:

    • ​Exposure to excessive fluoride during early childhood.

    • Use of Tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy.

    • Use of tetracycline antibiotics under 8 years old of age.

    • Trauma that affected a tooth when you were a young child. A fall, for example, may damage the developing permanent tooth or internal bleeding discolors teeth

    • Born with a rare condition called amelogenesis or dentinogenesis imperfecta. This causes gray, amber or purple discolorations.

  • Age-related - This is a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Dentin naturally yellows over time. The enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner with age, which allows the dentin to show through. Foods and smoking also can Stained Teeth as people get older. Finally, chips or other injuries can discolor a tooth, especially when the pulp has been damaged.

Symptoms

This can range from white streaks to yellow tints, brown spots and/or pitting of the smooth surface of the enamel. If the enamel has worn away, and dentin is showing through, you may notice a yellow tint.

Diagnosis

No special tests are needed. We recommend a consultation with one of our specialists or the hygienist to help you diagnose the cause of the staining.

Prevention

  • Brushing your teeth after every meal will help to prevent some stains.

  • We recommend that you rinse your mouth with water after having wine, coffee or other drinks or foods that can stained your teeth.

  • Regular cleanings by a dental hygienist also will help to remove surface stains.

  • Intrinsic stains that are caused by damage to a nerve or blood vessel in a tooth sometimes can be prevented. You may need to have root canal treatment to remove the inner part of the tooth (the pulp) before it has a chance to decay and darken. However, teeth that have root canal treatment may darken anyway.

  • To prevent intrinsic stains in children, avoid too much early exposure to fluorides (prevent your child from swallowing toothpaste in excess). Once the enamel is formed, fluoride will not discolor teeth.

Treatment

  • Many extrinsic stains caused by food and drink can be removed by regular professional cleanings and home care. Good home care includes brushing, flossing and rinsing after meals.

  • The use of Prophy-Jet Air Polishing system. Our hygienist offers this service to help you reduce the extrinsic stains.

  • Discoloration often can be removed by applying a bleaching agent to the tooth enamel.You will use a bleaching gel and a mouth guard given to you by your dentist. The bleaching gels designed for use at home aren't as strong as those applied by your dentist. This means that the process takes longer — usually two to four weeks.

  • Whitening toothpastes usually don't work – they have a very low concentration of the bleaching material and are not as effective as professionally applied bleaching gels

  • If your tooth has darkened after a root canal, bleaching the enamel won't help. Our endodontist can apply a bleaching material to the inside of the tooth, or you may consider a crown or veneer.

  • Bleaching will not lighten some stains, such as tetracycline stains. In this case, our specialists may recommend covering the discoloured areas. This also may be useful when the tooth is chipped or badly damaged. A tooth can be covered with a color-matched composite bonding material. Another option is to get veneers. These are thin ceramic shells that cover the outer surfaces of the teeth.

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