There are many reasons why teeth can become discolored. Dentists have categorized causes of tooth discoloration into 2 types: Extrinsic and Intrinsic.
- Extrinsic Staining – This type of discoloration is usually superficial and appears yellow and spread out over the entire tooth. It’s normally a result of eating food or drinking beverages that have very strong colors in them. Probably the worst culprit is black tea, as the high concentration of tannins get caught in minuscule crevices in the teeth, leaving the tooth stained. Other sources of extrinsic discoloration are berries, coffee, wine, and smoking.
- Intrinsic Staining – This type of discoloration is not usually spread out over an entire tooth, but rather is usually small, localized, and very dark. These stains are much deeper in the tooth and are basically built into the tooth. These stains appear most often as a side effect of some medications. They can also appear as a result of disease, overexposure to fluoride, or as a result of the dentin layer of the teeth showing when the outer enamel layer erodes.
Have these stains? Luckily there are ways to clean or hide them! Generally, removing extrinsic stains is much easier than dealing intrinsic stains, as intrinsic stains usually have to be hidden.
- Whitening Extrinsic Teeth stains – These stains can usually be removed by in-office teeth whitening or take home teeth whitening kits. You can also help avoid getting the stains in the first place by rinsing out your mouth with water after eating tooth-staining food. Whatever you do, don’t brush your teeth after eating staining food, as staining foods are generally also acidic and brushing right after eating acidic food can erode the enamel layer of your teeth.
- Whitening Intrinsic Teeth stains – These stains usually can’t be treated with regular teeth whitening solutions and these stains need to be covered up. This can be accomplished through the use of dental veneers or dental crowns. These stains are also harder to avoid, as they may be a result of an important medication you are taking. It’s also hard to know when your teeth are over-fluoridated until the stains already appear on your teeth. Veneers and crowns cover up the stains and are do not stain from medication and fluoride.