Discolouration of the tooth is one of the most common problems in dentistry today.
Having stained teeth can make you feel insecure about your smile and can affect your confidence as a whole. This problem occurs due to changes inside your teeth. There are 3 main types of changes that affect the appearance of your teeth:
Extrinsic – This is when the enamel on the outer layer of your teeth is stained. Usual suspects at the root of this problem are coffee, wine, cola or smoking, however some other foods and drinks can have staining effects.
Intrinsic – This occurs when the inner structure of the tooth or the dentin is subject to a yellow tint or darkens in some way. The root cause of this particular discolouration is often linked to childhood hygiene including:
• Too much exposure to fluoride in early childhood
• Having a childhood trauma that affected the tooth i.e a fall.
• Use of tetracycline antibiotics when you were 8 years old or younger.
Age related – Both extrinsic and intrinsic factors are involved here. Naturally, over time the dentin which has become yellow will begin to show through the thinning enamel. Food and smoking are also culprits along with actual tooth damage such as chips or other injuries.
Discolouration can appear in ways such as white streaks, yellow tints or brown spots across the teeth. If the enamel has started to wear away and dentin is beginning to come through, the yellow tint will become more noticeable. In order to prevent stains appearing in your smile it’s important to brush your teeth after every meal or to rinse your mouth with water after consuming products that are more likely to leave stains. Also flossing to ensure a full clean will only benefit the health of your smile. Frequent check-ups with your dental hygienist will also remove and reduce surface stains.
The duration of the stains on your teeth don’t have to be lifelong. Some can be removed with professional cleaning and regular check-ups. Depending on the severity of the stains, teeth can sometimes be whitened using a bleaching gel. If you feel neither of these treatments work, discuss a crown or veneers with your dentist.