What is staining my teeth?
There are basically two types of tooth staining or discoloration: extrinsic, which affects teeth from the outside; and intrinsic, staining built into the structure of the tooth itself.
Extrinsic stains can be caused by a variety of sources. Microscopic pits, fissures, and defects in the enamel of teeth make them more susceptible to building up stain. Foods or liquids with high tannin contents such as red wine, tea, and coffee are responsible for the majority of staining we see. Tobacco use is a source for heavy extrinsic stain. Other sources such as oral bacteria, topical medications, and even some dental products can be other sources of stain. Stain can be intensified by poor homecare and the accumulation of plaque and tarter build up.
Mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine (0.12%), prescription antibacterial mouth rinses can cause dental staining after long-term use, particularly on acrylic, composite resin and porcelain restorations. Stannous fluoride, a component of some toothpastes and mouth rinses may also induce brown discoloration.
Intrinsic dental stains (stains from within the tooth) may arise from certain dental filling materials or the condition of the tooth. For example, if the tooth is largely replaced by filling material, or if it has had a root canal filling, it may have a different color than the adjacent teeth. Medications taken when a tooth is forming can also cause intrinsic staining later in life.
Once your dentist has identified the type and cause of staining, he or she can recommend an appropriate therapy.
Extrinsic staining may be removed by polishing while intrinsic staining cannot.
Treatment options include:
Diet and habit modification- develop a strategy for modifying or eliminating habits such as tobacco use and the consumption of certain foods.
Daily oral hygiene– brushing two times a day for two full minutes and flossing daily will limit the amount of stain that builds up on your teeth. Most toothpastes contain some type of abrasive or detergent which help remove surface staining.
Fillings and Restorations– teeth discolored by dental caries or dental materials require the removal of the decay or restorative materials followed by proper restoration of the tooth. The margin (edge) of a restoration is especially susceptible to staining.
Bleaching (tooth whitening)– this technique is a safe and relatively easy way to brighten stained teeth, and is used to treat many types of tooth discoloration. Bleaching includes two general types of techniques:
- Vital, which is performed on “vital” teeth, i.e. the nerves are living and the discoloration is usually extrinsic. Vital bleaching is available in over-the-counter forms as well as prescription levels that can only be dispensed by a licensed dental professional.
- Non-vital (internal) bleaching is typically used to treat discolored teeth associated with root canal treatment. While vital techniques can be performed in-office or at home, non-vital whitening is strictly performed as an in-office professional procedure. An example of non-vital bleaching is pictured below.
As with any dental condition, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your dentist.
Click here to read more from 1-800-Dentist on causes and solutions to tooth discoloration.
Here at Adams and Cheek Dentistry, we are confident that with your motivation we can arrive at a solution to reduce or eliminate your dental stain. Call us at (919)866-1360 to make an appointment today or click here to schedule online!