Many of our patients come to us asking why their teeth aren’t looking as white as they used to. These same patients are also surprised to know that there are a variety of causes for tooth discoloration. Some types of tooth discoloration are easy to resolve, while others are not. It’s helpful to understand the cause of tooth discoloration, so you have a better understanding of how in-office and over the counter whitening will work for your smile.
Types of Discoloration
There are three types of discoloration. Intrinsic discoloration includes changes to the color of your tooth’s dentin. These changes can be more difficult to treat, and in some cases, the discoloration is permanent depending on the cause. Extrinsic discoloration is discoloration of the enamel of our teeth and is caused by the things we put in our mouth. Finally, there is discoloration caused by age. All three types of discoloration can be treated, making teeth look whiter. The methods for whitening and the effectiveness depend on the cause of discoloration and the treatment options.
Common Causes of Discoloration
If your teeth aren’t looking as white as they used to, or perhaps you have only one or two teeth that are discolored, you are probably curious about what has caused your teeth to change color. Here are some of the most common causes of tooth discoloration:
- Food and Drink – Many of the foods that we enjoy also cause stains to the enamel of our teeth. Dark colored foods and drinks like red wine, coffee, soda and even berries and dark fruits can stain enamel, causing teeth to look yellow and dull. These extrinsic stains are easy to resolve with both over the counter and in-office whitening products.
- Smoking – Smoking can cause stains to both the dentin and the enamel of your teeth. Surface stains can easily be resolved using whitening products. However, smoking can also cause staining to the dentin in your teeth. These stains can be more difficult to remedy.
- Too Much Fluoride – Too much fluoride during childhood can cause brown or white spots on the teeth. Enamel takes time to form on children’s teeth, so staining to the dentin can be difficult to resolve.
- Injury – Trauma or injury to a tooth can cause it to look yellow or grey. This discoloration occurs inside the dentin, and, like spotting from fluoride, can be difficult to resolve.
- Age – Unfortunately, as we age, our teeth naturally yellow. This yellowing can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. Your tooth’s dentin will yellow over time, and lifelong exposure to food, drinks and other factors can cause your teeth to look yellow and dull.
- Genetics – The natural color of your teeth also depends on your genetics. Naturally, teeth come in a range of colors, and no matter how much you want white teeth, your genes play a big part in how white we can get them.
Options for Whitening
You have a few options for whitening your teeth. Over the counter and in-office whitening products are designed to work on surface stains, in the enamel. These products are best for resolving age and food related staining. There are some in-office whitening products that can get deeper into the tooth structure, but these products can come with side effects like tooth sensitivity. For discoloration of the dentin caused by injury, age or genetics, your best option may be dental veneers. Veneers are a thin layer of porcelain or resin that are attached to the surface of your teeth. They are a good way to cover one or two teeth that have discoloration and can also fix minor issues like chips and teeth that are slightly crooked.
One of the benefits of being a patient with HPS Advanced Dental is that you receive a free whitening gel with every cleaning. This product is safe for you to use at home to keep your teeth looking bright. If, however, you’ve discovered that this isn’t enough, or you are considering veneers to resolve one or two teeth with permanent discoloration, we can help you find the right whitening solution. For more information on teeth whitening options from HPS Advanced Dental, call us today at (248 0652-0024 to schedule an appointment.