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Treating the Different Types of Tooth Discoloration

By William Stofer on July 23, 2015


Male with a white, attractive smileOne of the simplest ways to significantly improve the appearance of your smile is by enhancing the color of your teeth. Professional teeth whitening can improve tooth color by up to eight shades, providing patients with the brighter, whiter, and more attractive smile they desire. However, patients should know that certain types of tooth discoloration aren’t effectively eliminated with teeth whitening treatment. Instead, porcelain or composite materials may be used to mask tooth stains. To learn more about the different types of tooth discoloration, contact our Warsaw practice. The dentists at Dental Solutions offer cosmetic treatments that can brighten the smile.

Types of Tooth Discoloration

There are a number of factors that can cause the teeth to look gray, yellow, or dulled. Factors such as the food we eat, the medications we take, and our genetic make-up can affect tooth color. It is important to know what type of discoloration is present on a person’s teeth in order for our dentists to determine the best way to treat that discoloration and brighten the smile. Below are the possible types of tooth discoloration and how they can best be addressed:

  • External discoloration: External discoloration, which is known professionally as extrinsic staining, is the most common form of tooth discoloration. External discoloration causes the tooth’s outer layer (the enamel) to lose its white color and brilliance. Causes of external discoloration include deeply colored food and beverages, as well as the use of tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and cigarettes. Because external discoloration is only present on the outer layer of the tooth, it is the easiest to treat. Most external stains can be effectively removed through teeth whitening treatment.
  • Internal discoloration: Internal discoloration, which dentists refer to as intrinsic stains, affects the color of the tooth’s inner layer, or dentin. Unlike superficial external discoloration, this discoloration is deep set and will not respond to the bleaching agents that are used in teeth whitening treatment. The most common causes of internal discoloration include the use of certain medications or overuse of fluoride. Internal discoloration cannot be lifted, but cosmetic dental treatments can conceal this discoloration to give patients a brighter, whiter smile. Treatments that can successfully address internal discoloration include cosmetic dental bonding and porcelain veneers.
  • Age-related discoloration: The teeth are no different than any other part of the body when it comes to aging. Over time, the teeth lose their shine, the enamel thins out, and the dentin becomes more visible. All of these factors result in a duller and less vibrant smile. Teeth whitening treatment can offer some improvement to tooth color in those experiencing age-related discoloration, but for maximum results, a more extensive treatment like porcelain veneers may be considered.

Schedule an Appointment

Everyone deserves to have an attractive smile that they are eager to share with others. If dull tooth color has left you unhappy with the appearance of your smile, consider cosmetic dental treatment. Schedule an appointment with one of our experienced dentists at Dental Solutions to learn how we can help you brighten and whiten your smile.

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