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Types of Tooth Discoloration

By Dr. Collier on October 01, 2015

Close up of a man’s teeth, divided to show whitening effectsYou can’t deny that a white, bright smile looks fabulous. In fact, a beautiful smile makes others smile - it’s contagious! For people with various types of tooth discoloration, teeth whitening can minimize the appearance of coffee, wine, and food stains, as well as tobacco stains. However, those with tetracycline drug stains and bright fluorosis may be better suited to porcelain veneers or dental bonding. After treatment for tooth discoloration, you’ll want to keep your smile vibrant by avoiding stain-causing habits. To learn more about the types of tooth discoloration, contact our Memphis practice today.

The Causes of Tooth Discoloration

The teeth are hard. Human tooth enamel is the second hardest naturally-occurring substance on the entire planet. Enamel is also porous, and when we eat certain foods, enamel can temporarily soften; it re-hardens in about an hour.

Chromagens are a staining element present in darkly pigmented foods and beverages. Some foods also contain tannins, which make chromagens stickier. While chromagens can stain teeth any time by soaking into pores in enamel, our teeth are particularly prone to stains when chromagens, tanins, and acid are consumed at once - like with red wine. Some of the darkest tooth stains develop on people who regularly consume red wine. Other potent teeth staining foods include coffee, tea, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.

Furthermore, starchy foods, including sugar-laden treats, mix with saliva to soften tooth enamel, so breads, rice, potatoes, and sweet desserts increase the risk for stains. Acidic beverages and foods, like citrus fruits, tomato juice, and white wine also soften tooth enamel. Try to avoid consuming staining foods after consuming starchy or acidic foods. This diet strategy will reduce your risk for tooth discoloration. Also, be diligent in rinsing your mouth with pure water after eating or drinking any of the items listed above.

Types of Tooth Discoloration

Extrinsic tooth stains are those that occur as a result of exposure to external elements, like the foods and drinks described above, and tobacco. These stains can be quickly and effectively removed with a professional treatment, like Zoom! Whitening, or a prescription home whitening system.

Intrinsic stains occur from the inside of a tooth. For instance, ingesting tetracycline drugs (antibiotics) can cause dark gray or brown stains in teeth. Children who swallow fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash when their permanent teeth are developing may see stark white, horizontal striping on their teeth. This is called fluorosis. While not medically harmful, fluorosis stains are permanent. They make the non-affected tooth enamel appear dark and stained, even if it is not.

Treating Tooth Stains

Zoom! Whitening and professional take-home whitening kits can often erase extrinsic stains, but intrinsic stains are trickier. By bleaching unaffected tooth enamel, fluorosis stains are less noticeable, because the rest of the tooth is made whiter. To completely eliminate intrinsic stains, a cosmetic dentist will recommend porcelain veneers, bonding, or white crowns. We offer all of these treatments. Our cosmetic dentists will evaluate your case and advise you on the best treatment to address your tooth discoloration.

Learn More about Teeth Whitening

You don’t have to live with yellowed, brownish, or otherwise off-white teeth. In fact, your brighter, bolder smile may be one visit away. Zoom! Whitening can brighten your teeth in mere minutes. Call Southern Dental Implant Center now to schedule your teeth whitening consultation with one of our cosmetic dentists.

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Cordova Office

850 Willow Tree Cir
Ste 101
Cordova, TN 38018

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Cordova Office

850 Willow Tree Cir
Ste 101
Cordova, TN 38018

Open Today 8:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (901) 756-0078