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Conditions We Treat - Sparkle Dental
Tooth Discolouration Discoloration can affect the whole tooth or may be localised and will appear as dark spots.

Tooth Discolouration

There's an increasing emphasis on having perfectly white teeth, but no one has teeth that are immaculately white and aging can lead to teeth darkening in colour. Quite often tooth colour is dependent on genetics, but it can also be influenced by external factors.

Discoloured teeth can appear to be yellowish, brown or even grey or almost purple in colour, and the discoloration can affect the whole tooth or maybe localised and will appear as dark spots. One of the first things to determine is the cause of the tooth discoloration as the staining can be internal or external.

Internal staining is known as intrinsic staining, while external stains are known as extrinsic stains, and each need to be treated slightly differently. Extrinsic stains only affect the outer surface of the tooth or the tooth enamel, whereas intrinsic stains will affect the inner part of the tooth including the dentine and quite possibly the pulp chamber that's right in the central part of the tooth. The risk of developing certain types of tooth stains can be minimised through making certain lifestyle choices, but others aren't so easily avoided. Being aware of how teeth can become discoloured can help reduce your risk.

Causes of Extrinsic Stains

  • Food and drink are major culprits, particularly highly coloured foods such as coffee, tea and red wine. Berries and highly coloured sauces such as soy sauce increase the risk of staining. Eating a lot of very acidic foods can increase staining as they weaken the tooth enamel, enabling staining agents to penetrate more easily.
  • Nicotine is well known for discolouring teeth, but it is not any safer to switch to chewing tobacco and all types of tobacco use can have a hugely detrimental effect on teeth and oral health in general.
  • Poor oral hygiene can lead to teeth becoming discoloured as it will allow plaque and tartar to build up on the teeth. Tartar can appear to be slightly yellow in colour, and this is one of the reasons why your teeth appear slightly brighter after they've been professionally cleaned by a hygienist.

Causes of Intrinsic Stains

Intrinsic stains often aren't so easy to avoid and include:

  • Using certain antibiotics such as tetracycline can increase the risk of internal stains when given to children whose teeth are still developing.
  • Dental fluorosis occurs when developing teeth are exposed to too much fluoride, causing white or brown spots to form.
  • Trauma can damage the nerves within the tooth, leading to the tooth becoming discoloured.
  • Discolouration can sometimes occur as a result of root canal treatment.
  • Silver coloured amalgam fillings can make it appear as if a tooth is discoloured, and untreated tooth decay may appear as a darker area in a tooth.

Tooth discoloration can be down to genetics, as some people simply have darker teeth than others. Teeth do darken with age, and this is due to the layer of tooth enamel covering the crown of the tooth becoming thinner as it wears away. This exposes more of the underlying dentine that contains the natural colour of the tooth.

Treating Tooth Discolouration

There are various ways of treating discoloured teeth, depending on the cause of the discoloration. Some of the following treatments help to remove surface or extrinsic stains.

  • Having your teeth professionally cleaned by your hygienist will help remove some of the surface stains, brightening up your smile.
  • Making sure your oral hygiene is the best it can be can also help, especially as flossing in between the teeth helps to keep these areas free from plaque and tartar that can make the teeth look yellow.
  • Teeth whitening helps to lift the colour of the teeth through bleaching them with hydrogen peroxide gel.

If your teeth are intrinsically stained then you'll probably need to take a different approach, and dental veneers can cover up the front portion of the tooth completely. Amalgam fillings can be replaced with composite white fillings, and root treated teeth that have darkened can be covered up with dental crowns or it might be possible to bleach the tooth internally.

There's an increasing emphasis on having perfectly white teeth, but no one has teeth that are immaculately white and aging can lead to teeth darkening in colour. Quite often tooth colour is dependent on genetics, but it can also be influenced by external factors.

Discoloured teeth can appear to be yellowish, brown or even grey or almost purple in colour, and the discoloration can affect the whole tooth or maybe localised and will appear as dark spots. One of the first things to determine is the cause of the tooth discoloration as the staining can be internal or external.

Internal staining is known as intrinsic staining, while external stains are known as extrinsic stains, and each need to be treated slightly differently. Extrinsic stains only affect the outer surface of the tooth or the tooth enamel, whereas intrinsic stains will affect the inner part of the tooth including the dentine and quite possibly the pulp chamber that's right in the central part of the tooth. The risk of developing certain types of tooth stains can be minimised through making certain lifestyle choices, but others aren't so easily avoided. Being aware of how teeth can become discoloured can help reduce your risk.

Causes of Extrinsic Stains

  • Food and drink are major culprits, particularly highly coloured foods such as coffee, tea and red wine. Berries and highly coloured sauces such as soy sauce increase the risk of staining. Eating a lot of very acidic foods can increase staining as they weaken the tooth enamel, enabling staining agents to penetrate more easily.
  • Nicotine is well known for discolouring teeth, but it is not any safer to switch to chewing tobacco and all types of tobacco use can have a hugely detrimental effect on teeth and oral health in general.
  • Poor oral hygiene can lead to teeth becoming discoloured as it will allow plaque and tartar to build up on the teeth. Tartar can appear to be slightly yellow in colour, and this is one of the reasons why your teeth appear slightly brighter after they've been professionally cleaned by a hygienist.

Causes of Intrinsic Stains

Intrinsic stains often aren't so easy to avoid and include:

  • Using certain antibiotics such as tetracycline can increase the risk of internal stains when given to children whose teeth are still developing.
  • Dental fluorosis occurs when developing teeth are exposed to too much fluoride, causing white or brown spots to form.
  • Trauma can damage the nerves within the tooth, leading to the tooth becoming discoloured.
  • Discolouration can sometimes occur as a result of root canal treatment.
  • Silver coloured amalgam fillings can make it appear as if a tooth is discoloured, and untreated tooth decay may appear as a darker area in a tooth.

Tooth discoloration can be down to genetics, as some people simply have darker teeth than others. Teeth do darken with age, and this is due to the layer of tooth enamel covering the crown of the tooth becoming thinner as it wears away. This exposes more of the underlying dentine that contains the natural colour of the tooth.

Treating Tooth Discolouration

There are various ways of treating discoloured teeth, depending on the cause of the discoloration. Some of the following treatments help to remove surface or extrinsic stains.

  • Having your teeth professionally cleaned by your hygienist will help remove some of the surface stains, brightening up your smile.
  • Making sure your oral hygiene is the best it can be can also help, especially as flossing in between the teeth helps to keep these areas free from plaque and tartar that can make the teeth look yellow.
  • Teeth whitening helps to lift the colour of the teeth through bleaching them with hydrogen peroxide gel.

If your teeth are intrinsically stained then you'll probably need to take a different approach, and dental veneers can cover up the front portion of the tooth completely. Amalgam fillings can be replaced with composite white fillings, and root treated teeth that have darkened can be covered up with dental crowns or it might be possible to bleach the tooth internally.