The color of our teeth can vary between bright pearl white and light or pale yellow. If you notice any type of deviation from these colors, you might be having dental stains or dental discoloration. There are many reasons why this can happen and we will go over a few possible causes and also provide tips on how to tackle it.
What causes dental stains?
Dental stains can be caused both by internal and external factors. When the discoloration appears on the surface of the tooth, it is caused by external factors.
The most common external factors that can lead to dental stains are food, drinks, medication and even poor oral hygiene.
Stains that are also incorporated in the internal structure of the tooth can be caused either/both by external and internal factors. The most common internal factors of tooth discoloration are changed mineral composition of the tooth (loss of certain minerals and vitamins) as well as ageing (tooth tend to turn more yellow as we get older).
Dental stains form because of formation of calculus and soft deposits.
Types of dental stains
Depending on the cause, the differentiate two main types of dental stains
These types of stains are usually caused by poor oral hygiene, plaque that get deposited on the surface of the tooth, or by certain food and drink pigments, tobacco use (smoking or chewing) or even bacteria.
Intrinsic dental discoloration can form due certain drugs or medication (tetracycline antibiotics, blood pressure medication, antihistamines, chemotherapy and some antipsychotics), alterations of the tooth during tooth development stage, fluorosis (internal resorption of the tooth), jaundice etc.
How to manage dental discoloration?
Managing extrinsic and intrinsic dental stains isn’t the same. In fact, it’s much easier to manage extrinsic than intrinsic.
Before you take any steps in managing dental discoloration, you first need to closely monitor it. This is why we recommend that you schedule thorough dental cleaning every six months in order to avoid serious forms of extrinsic dental stains. You also need to make sure that you have good oral hygiene.
When it comes to intrinsic dental discoloration, a different approach is required. Since they mostly form due to developmental disturbances, your teeth don’t get enough of the important mineral they need and start showing signs of dental pitting on the surface.
So, with intrinsic stains, aside from stain removal, we also recommend esthetic and functional replacement of the lacking tooth structure.
Discoloration of both vital and non-vital teeth can also be managed by bleaching and this is the most commonly used approach.
The safest bet, however, would be to try to prevent tooth discoloration so you don’t have to manage it later. This is why it’s highly recommended for pregnant women not to take tetracycline during their third trimester, since that can lead to dental stains of future teeth of the child. It is also recommended not to administer this medication to children during infancy or early childhood.
Dental stains can sometimes be only an esthetical problem but they can also be sign of another, more serious, underlying issue. So make sure that you schedule your regular dental appointment and dental cleaning twice a year so that you can keep track of your teeth’s health.