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Causes of Tooth Discoloration and How Teeth Whitening Can Help

Tooth discoloration is caused by a wide range of factors, from smoking and disease to dark-colored beverages and certain medications. While discolorations and stains are easy to acquire, they can be difficult to remove on your own. Fortunately, teeth whitening technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Learn more about the causes of tooth discoloration and how teeth whitening treatments can help.

Types of Tooth Discoloration

Your teeth can become stained or discolored on the surface, which is known as extrinsic, or by changes within the tooth, which is called intrinsic. Age-related staining is a combination of both extrinsic and intrinsic discolorations. Extrinsic: Extrinsic discoloration occurs when the outer layer of tooth, the enamel, is stained. Intrinsic: Intrinsic discoloration is when the inside structure of the tooth, the dentin, gradually darkens. Age-Related: Age-related discoloration has both extrinsic and intrinsic causes. As a person ages, the enamel gets thinner, allowing the dentin to show through. The aging process also causes the dentin to darken or yellow, which can become visible as the enamel thins. Related: What Are Tooth Fillings And Where Did They Come From?

Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Many different things can result in tooth discoloration. This discoloration may appear as an entire surface discoloration, spots or lines on a tooth, or small stained areas. The following are the most common causes of tooth discoloration:
  • Food/Beverages: Soda, coffee, tea, and certain fruits and vegetables are known for causing tooth stains.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate brushing habits can cause staining as plaque and decay form on tooth surfaces.
  • Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes or cigars, and chewing tobacco, can cause tooth surface stains.
  • Certain Diseases: Some conditions can result in tooth staining, such as anemia. Treatments for certain diseases can also cause discoloration, such as neck radiation.
  • Certain Medications: Certain medications can contribute to tooth discoloration or stains, such as antibiotics and antihistamines.
  • Genetics: Some people are born with brighter or thicker enamel, which is typically more resistant to staining.
  • Injury: Certain forms of trauma or injury can cause teeth to become discolored, especially during childhood as the teeth are still forming.
  • Environmental Factors: Excessive exposure to fluoride and various other environmental factors can contribute to tooth discoloration.

How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth whitening has become a popular cosmetic procedure used by many men and women who desire a brighter, whiter smile. In addition to home treatments, such as whitening toothpastes and kits, in-office home whitening provides fast and highly effective results in as little as 30 minutes. During treatment, a whitening gel is applied to the teeth, and a special light is used to activate the gel. Tooth whitening is an affordable way to remove stubborn stains and discoloration. For more information about teeth whitening procedures, or to schedule an appointment, contact your cosmetic dentist today.  
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