3 Reasons Why Your Teeth Might Be Discolored

What the Discoloration of a Tooth Can Mean


reasons for teeth discoloration

Tooth discoloration can occur for a number of reasons. For some patients, a teeth whitening service can help reduce or eliminate general stains that have developed on the teeth. In other cases, discoloration occurs due to internal issues, or poor dental hygiene. The only way to really discover the cause of a tooth discoloration is to talk to your dentist about it. They can work with you to help understand your outside habits, including smoking, drinking coffee, medications, and more. In turn, this can help to discover the best way to treat the tooth discoloration.

Understanding The Problem

The discoloration of teeth is typically caused by three main factors: extrinsic stains, intrinsic stains, and age-related stains.

  • Extrinsic Stains

    This type of tooth discoloration is caused by external factors and is usually the easiest to treat. One of the most common causes of extrinsic stains is regular cigarette smoking, which has been known to cause teeth to yellow, along with other serious health issues. Coffee and red wine are other known culprits of tooth stains, as the dark-colored liquids are absorbed into the tooth’s surface. Educate yourself with other known food and drinks that can cause stains to help prevent them from developing. Instead, replace them with some foods that can help naturally whiten teeth. Additionally, talk to your dentist about a professional teeth whitening, as this can help reduce stains and help prevent them from developing.

    Another type of external stain can be a yellow or greenish stain that develops around the gums. In most cases, this is plaque or bacteria build up and can be removed with a dental scaling or teeth cleaning.

  • Intrinsic Stains

    Issues that have developed within the body cause internal stains; whether they are general health issues or ailments due to poor oral health or hygiene. In some cases, discoloration can occur as a side effect of the absorption of antibiotics during pregnancy or during early childhood. Discoloration doesn’t always come in the form of yellow stains, either. Black, gray, yellow, and brown stains can develop on the teeth, as well.

    Tooth decay will often cause black spots to develop, and cannot be treated with a whitening alone. Instead, your dentist will have to remove the rotten areas and you will be fitted for fillings. If the damage is extensive, your dentist may recommend extraction and implants. In more serious cases, pulp necrosis may occur due to trauma to the tooth or gums and will cause the tooth to develop a gray/black stain. This will likely require an endodontic treatment or similar form of restorative dentistry to treat.

    Because internal factors are much harder to pinpoint, it is important not to ignore tooth discoloration, as it could be a sign of something more serious. Don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about a spot or stain on a tooth. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your smile is to take preventative measures to avoid more damaging issues from developing.

  • Age-Related Stains

    As we age, the color of our teeth naturally yellows. This is because the enamel gets thinner over time and the natural yellow shade of the dentin underneath. This type of discoloration is not due to staining and therefore is not a reason to worry. However, many older patients wish to correct this for aesthetic purposes.

Look Your Very Best

Tooth discoloration can cause patients to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with their smile, and in some cases, it can be a sign of more serious oral troubles. In some cases, the solution is a simple whitening service – whether a professional in-office procedure or at-home whitening treatments. Other patients may require a more extensive procedure, such as fillings, crowns, or veneers.

Keep in mind, you may experience discoloration or rather a difference in shades if a cosmetic procedure is done before the teeth are whitened to their desired shades. Dr. Acosta works closely with patients to help them understand the best way to correct tooth discoloration and help them regain a smile they are proud to show off!

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