Even with the best oral hygiene and dental practices, developing some tooth stains over your life is practically unavoidable. Food, drinks, and tobacco are the most common and widely recognized culprits for stained and discolored teeth, but they’re not the only ones. You might be surprised to learn that everything from prescription medications to the normal aging process itself can stain your teeth.
Understanding the different types of teeth stains can help you protect your smile and choose the best teeth whitening treatments for your situation. At Scott Young, DDS, our dentists Dr. Scott Young, Dr. Kathleen Akers, and our dental team offer cosmetic and general dentistry services at our office in The Woodlands, Texas.
Understanding the different types of teeth stains and how to treat them
There are two types of teeth stains: extrinsic and intrinsic.
With extrinsic stains, the stain develops on the surface of the tooth through the enamel layer.
Intrinsic tooth stains are caused by damage to the dentin layer, which is below the enamel layer.
Each type of stain is caused by different factors, produces different colors, and responds to different types of whitening treatments.
What causes damage to your tooth enamel?
Enamel is like a coat of armor for the teeth, but it’s not indestructible. One of the most common culprits of enamel erosion is the acids from food and drinks. However, enamel also becomes thinner and wears down as we get older. That makes your teeth more vulnerable to staining as you age.
In addition to diet, other factors like taking certain medications, experiencing acid reflux disease, and even your family history can wear your enamel and make your teeth more vulnerable to staining. Even grinding or brushing your teeth too hard can cause abrasions to the enamel. Along with stains, enamel erosion can also increase your risk of cavities.
Extrinsic tooth stains are usually yellow or brown. You may also experience heightened tooth sensitivity and notice changes to the teeth’s texture when the enamel starts to fade.
What causes intrinsic dental stains?
Teeth stains that develop in the dentin layer are usually caused by trauma to the tooth, taking certain medications like tetracycline, and overexposure to fluoride in childhood. This type of stain can be gray, brown, yellow, or even orange. You may also notice white spots on the tooth.
If you have extrinsic dental stains, our team may recommend Zoom! Teeth whitening treatments, which we offer as both in-office or take-home treatments.
Intrinsic dental stains require a different approach. In this case, porcelain veneers are usually the most effective option to cover your stains and whiten your teeth.
For more information about professional teeth whitening and the cosmetic dentistry services we offer, contact us today to schedule an appointment.