How to Overcome Tooth Stains

How to Overcome Tooth Stains

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Everyone wants to have bright, pearly white teeth. Unfortunately, the colorful foods and drinks we consume can stain our teeth, causing them to lose their natural white appearance. 

Staining and discoloration is something we all have to deal with, but we don’t have to settle for a less-than-bright smile. Let’s talk about the various causes of tooth discoloration and what can be done to correct it. 

Types of Discoloration

How you overcome tooth stains is dependent upon the type of stain, of which there are three main types: 

Intrinsic Discoloration

The dentin is the hard part of the tooth underneath the enamel; when dentin takes on a yellowed or darkened tint, this is intrinsic discoloration. Dentin can become yellowed after being extensively exposed to fluoride, especially during the early years.

Intrinsic discoloration can also occur when, during the second half of pregnancy, the mother is prescribed the antibiotic tetracycline. If a child who is 8 years of age or younger is prescribed tetracycline, it can also cause discoloration in their teeth.

Extrinsic Discoloration

Enamel stains are called extrinsic discoloration. This affects the hard outer layer of the tooth as the person eats colorful foods and drinks dark or colorful beverages – such as coffee, sodas, and wine. Perhaps the worst contributor to extrinsic discoloration is smoking.

Age-Related Discoloration

Tooth stains can also develop naturally as a person ages. The enamel becomes thinner and reveals the dentin underneath, which is naturally slightly yellow but can become more yellowed over time.

As teeth become weaker, a tooth is more likely to be injured or cracked. This can cause damage to the soft pulp deep inside the tooth, and this damage can also cause discoloration.

Can a Dentist Fix Yellowed Teeth? 

A person can have more than one type of discoloration at the same time, and all can be remedied by a skilled dentist. A dentist will examine your teeth and determine whether or not there are surface stains present or whether the discoloration is due to yellowing material underneath.

Surface stains on the teeth can often be corrected with a professional dental cleaning. Stubborn stains or deeper staining aren’t as easily removed, but they may be able to be treated via professional whitening, or bleaching.

Dental Bleaching Treatments 

There are bleaching agents on the market that non-professionals use at home.

However, it is imperative that the directions are followed closely, so that there are no mishaps or unfortunate side effects.

The do-it-yourself kits include whiteners with high levels of peroxide as the active ingredient. Higher levels produce brighter results, but the danger is that the peroxide can hurt your mouth – especially if the product, in the form of strips or gels, are left on the teeth too long.

Even if you’d like to use an at-home teeth-bleaching kit, ask your dentist first about the safety and efficacy of the particular one you’re interested in. The dentist will explain the pros and cons of teeth-whitening kits.

Additionally, if your gums are unhealthy or if cavities are present, the dentist will likely advise against bleaching at home until the dental problems are first addressed.

Professional Teeth Whitening

It’s always best and safest to have your teeth cleaned professionally at least twice a year, and the same dentist can perform whitening treatments that will work best for your teeth and make you look spectacular. The dentist may also recommend at-home treatments that will work for you. 

If you want bright white teeth, Dr. Steven Hagerman of Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is here to help you. Contact us today to find out more about cosmetic dentistry and how your smile can be brighter. 

Call (651) 646-2392 today to schedule an appointment, or fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to helping you love the way you smile.