Discoloration of Teeth
While everyone likes a sparkling white smile, darkening or yellowing of teeth is a common problem. There are many reasons behind this condition, but in most cases, the effect is limited to the enamel only. This means that it can be set right. There are various food and beverages that are responsible for tooth discoloration. These include black tea or coffee, wines, chocolates, and other dark-colored food items like soy sauce, curries, and tomato sauce. Smoking or chewing tobacco is also a major reason behind tooth discoloration.
In many cases, inadequate brushing or flossing of teeth after consuming these types of food items can lead to discoloration. Consuming more acidic food can make the enamel more prone to staining. Also, there are a few diseases that prevent the normal growth of the enamel and lead to tooth staining. Certain treatments like head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can also cause tooth discoloration. Other factors include medications, genetics, and environmental effects. It can also happen naturally, as with age, the enamel gets worn out and the yellow layer of dentin is revealed.
The first step to prevent staining is to consume the stain-causing food items in moderation and routine cleaning of the teeth. A dentist can perform professional teeth whitening by using special whitening products and procedures. In some cases, the process of dental bonding is used. Here, a white resin is bonded with the tooth to make it whiter. In other cases, dental veneers, which are custom made porcelain shells, are used to cover the front of the tooth.
Note that depending on the teeth conditions and the methods used, teeth can get anywhere from three to eight shades brighter. If you are looking to get back your spotless teeth, Right Choice Dental Care offers the complete variety of teeth whitening techniques for you.
What causes tooth discoloration?
There are several causes of tooth discoloration, including:
- Foods/drinks - Coffee, tea, colas, wines, and certain fruits and vegetables (for example, apples and potatoes) can stain your teeth.
- Tobacco use - Smoking or chewing tobacco can stain teeth.
- Poor dental hygiene - Inadequate brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash to remove plaque and stain-producing substances like coffee and tobacco can cause tooth discoloration.
- Disease - Several diseases that affect enamel (the hard surface of the teeth) and dentin (the underlying material under enamel) can lead to tooth discoloration. Treatments for certain conditions can also affect tooth color. For example, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can cause teeth discoloration. In addition, certain infections in pregnant mothers can cause tooth discoloration in the infant by affecting enamel development.
- Medications - The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor teeth when given to children whose teeth are still developing (before age 8). Mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain teeth. Antihistamines (like Benadryl), antipsychotic drugs, and drugs for high blood pressure also cause teeth discoloration.
- Dental materials - Some of the materials used in dentistry, such as amalgam restorations, especially silver sulfide-containing materials, can cast a gray-black color to teeth.
- Advancing age - As you age, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away, revealing the natural yellow color of dentin.
- Genetics - Some people have naturally brighter or thicker enamel than others.
- Environment - Excessive fluoride either from environmental sources (naturally high fluoride levels in water) or from excessive use (fluoride applications, rinses, toothpaste, and fluoride supplements taken by mouth) can cause teeth discoloration.
- Trauma - For example, damage from a fall can disturb enamel formation in young children whose teeth are still developing. Trauma can also cause discoloration to adult teeth.
How do you fix discolored teeth?
Treatment options to whiten teeth can vary depending on the cause of the discoloration and may include:
- Using proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques
- Avoidance of the foods and beverages that cause stains
- Using over-the-counter whitening agents
- In-home whitening agents purchased from your dentist
- In-office whitening procedures
How Can I Prevent Teeth Discoloration?
By making a few simple lifestyle changes, you may be able to prevent teeth discoloration. For example, if you are a coffee drinker and/or smoker, consider cutting back or quitting all together. Also, improve your dental hygiene by brushing, flossing, and using a mouthwash daily, and getting your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist every 6 months.
Is tooth discoloration permanent?
Tooth discoloration associated with celiac disease is permanent. Most stains and spots caused by fluorosis or tooth decay are likewise irreversible. For permanent or stubborn brown spots on the teeth a dentist may be able to hide discolorations, or prevent further discoloration, with:
- white composite fillings