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Information on Different Types of Tooth Discoloration

May 5, 2014 — by John Meola
Tags: Teeth Whitening Tooth Discoloration Smile Makeover Cosmetic Dentistry

Information on Different Types of Tooth DiscolorationThere are many different kinds of issues that we can address at our practice. When you meet with a cosmetic dentist, you'll receive a custom treatment plan that enhances the beauty of your smile. There can never be a one-size-fits-all approach to dental care, especially when it comes to the aesthetics of the smile. There are so many issues to take into account, even with something that seems as simple as tooth stains.

We'd like to take a few moments right now to consider the nature of dental stains, the types of stains that can occur, and what we can do to address these kinds of dental problems.

Extrinsic Stains and Intrinsic Stains

Broadly, there are three different kinds of stains that can affect the teeth, intrinsic, extrinsic, and a combination of both.

  • Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration - Intrinsic tooth discoloration refers to cases in which the tooth discoloration emerges from within the tooth and/or the tooth structure itself. This is commonly linked to internal problems with the tooth, medications, and trauma to the tooth.
  • Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration - Extrinsic tooth discoloration refers to cases in which the tooth discoloration originates at the surface (enamel) layer of the tooth structure. This is often the result of smoking, coffee, red wine, and other topical substances commonly associated with dental stains.
  • Mixed Intrinsic/Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration - This refers to both intrinsic and extrinsic factors that combine to result in discoloration of the teeth. With advanced age, it's likely that the color of a person's smile is affected by this mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Let's broadly consider the different colors of dental stains now and what may cause this discoloration to occur. The causes and coloration can vary to some degree, so it's important to keep that in mind.

Yellowing and Topical Discoloration

Yellowing of the teeth is often caused by extrinsic factors, such as those mentioned above (smoking, coffee, curry, etc.). The colors can vary in shade a bit, including orange hues. The aging process as well as a person's genetic makeup can also contribute to the yellowing of the teeth.

Brown and Gray Dental Stains

Brown and gray stains on a tooth are generally related to tooth decay and internal damage to the tooth structure. Cavities, for instance, can be colored brown or darker depending on the stage of its development. Infections of the pulp chamber of a tooth can also manifest themselves in browning or graying.

Chalky Whiteness to Tooth Appearance

You may also notice some people with tooth discoloration that takes the form of chalky whiteness or over-whiteness. These paler spots and patches are often the result of overexposure to fluoride.

Treatment Options for Tooth Discoloration

Given that there are many different kinds of tooth stains, there are also many different options for addressing these matters. Teeth whitening is a popular option for addressing external discoloration of the smile, and professional treatments are far more effective than the use of over-the-counter products. Intrinsic stains or deep stains may not respond well to teeth whitening, in which case porcelain veneers or another option may be considered.

During your visit to our practice, we will be sure to consider the nature of your dental stain and help you receive the treatment that is best suited to meet your needs.

Learn More About Advanced Dental Care

If you would like to learn more about tooth discoloration and how it can be treated, we encourage you to contact our cosmetic dentistry offices in Boston and Waltham today. The entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve a healthier and more beautiful smile.