Dental Bites: Teeth Staining and Whitening
Tooth discoloration and stains on your teeth are common occurrences that can happen for a variety of reasons. The good news is many of these stains are treatable and preventable. Here’s what you need to know about the causes of tooth discoloration and stains, and what you can do to keep your pearly whites looking their best.
3 Types of staining
• Extrinsic. With extrinsic tooth discoloration, it’s likely that the stains are only affecting the tooth enamel, or the surface of the tooth. The most common causes of extrinsic stains include:
o Food- Red Sauces & Chocolate
o Beverages- Red Wine, Tea, Coffee
o Tobacco- Cigarettes
• Intrinsic. This type of stain is located within the tooth, which makes it more resistant to over-the-counter whitening products. It often appears grayish. Examples of intrinsic stains include:
o Certain Medications-Tetracycline/Antibiotics
o Trauma or Injury to a Tooth
o Tooth Decay
• Age-related. When you age, the enamel on your teeth begins to wear away, which often results in a yellow appearance. Many times, age-related discoloration may be caused by both extrinsic and intrinsic factors.
What can you do to get rid of stains?
• In-office treatment. Your dentist will typically use a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening compared with store bought products. In-office treatment works quickly and the effects usually last longer than other methods. Examples: Pola and Zoom.
• At-home treatments through your dentist. Some dentists can make custom trays to use on your teeth at home. You’ll add a gel to the tray and wear it on your teeth for an allotted amount of time each day, or as recommended by your dentist.
• Over-the-counter products. Whitening toothpastes and whitening strips may be able to diminish surface stains but are much less effective on intrinsic stains that are located inside your teeth.
If you notice a change in the color of your teeth and it doesn’t get better with a whitening product, it’s a good idea to follow up with your dentist.