Some call it discoloration and some call it discolorization but in the context of teeth, it indicates that your teeth no longer have the desirable natural white color. You may choose to dye your hair any color you want. Unfortunately, you cannot afford to have teeth that are not white, at least in the current context.
Types of teeth stains
Talk about stained and discolored teeth and you can broadly classify stains into three different categories.
1. Age-related stains
With age your dark hair turns grey and your once-white teeth turn yellow. You may use creams and botox to keep your skin looking young but teeth, if not cared for, can be a dead giveaway. This happens because the enamel wears off and dentin shows through as you get older. External causes and your lifestyle also affect tooth color by the time you turn 50. Not everyone is rigorously meticulous about maintaining white teeth or keeping teeth clean. It all adds up over time. With age come other issues such as diabetes and gastric problems that can, directly and indirectly, have a bearing on your teeth’s health. Enamel wears off or is chipped off and infection by bacteria can spread inside to the pulp and dentin leading to discolorization. You may have some health conditions for which you take medication. Medicines can also colorize your teeth deep yellow or brown.
2. Intrinsic stain
This too requires time to happen. Staining material percolates through the enamel and accumulates. Over time the enamel takes on a yellow or brown color due to accumulation of these fine particles. Excess fluoride in drinking water also leads to intrinsic stains. Poor dental hygiene is also a factor. If you neglect to brush and floss properly and let food particles stay in your mouth you can be sure that staining will occur. For instance, it is all too easy to drink a cup of coffee and not rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Changes in the pulp and dentin can also show through the semi-transparent enamel layer. Teeth will appear stained yellow or grey.
Intrinsic stains are difficult to get rid of since they are below the surface of the tooth. Whitening may work in some cases and it may not work in others. In such cases the best option is to go for veneers or crowns.
3. Extrinsic stains
You and your food habits are responsible for extrinsic stains. If you chew or smoke tobacco then you can expect your teeth to go brown. Tobacco is the culprit as is black coffee. Drink it and forget to rinse your mouth and the dark coffee stains your teeth. It is the same with chocolate, cocoa, tea and wine. Even berries with deep dark colors can discolor your teeth. These are a few reasons for extrinsic stains on your teeth, something that you can prevent or get rid of through regular dental checkups and cleaning.
Light stains can be easy to remove at home using whitening toothpaste or formulations designed to whiten teeth. Obdurate stains may require thorough cleansing first and then appropriate whitening-bleaching using carbamide peroxide gel, something you can get done at a dentist.
Children’s teeth discoloration problems
- It is not just adults who are vulnerable to teeth discoloration issues. Even babies are vulnerable. Babies subsist on milk and it is for the mother to clean the teeth by gently wiping with a swab of cotton or brushing lightly. Failure to do so could lead to plaque build-up and that leads to tooth discoloration.
- Yet another reason babies could exhibit stained teeth is that you may have taken medications during pregnancy. Antibiotics like tetracycline can cause a deep yellow stain.
If babies are affected by jaundice, especially around teething time, then teeth may take on a brown-red or green-blue hue.
- If your diet contains too much iron or fluoride and you are breastfeeding your infant then it is likely the child’s teeth will show dark stains or white streaks.
- High fever is also likely to cause discoloration of teeth.
- As your baby grows and develops a fondness for sweet it is likely to result in tooth decay and staining.
- Genetics also plays a role. Some people have thin and weak enamel and if your baby has this condition then their teeth will stain with ease.
Babies require meticulous care to prevent staining that could be the first sign of dental caries. It is a good idea to make it a practice to take your baby to your family dentist right from the moment milk teeth are erupting.
Brown stains due to smoking and tobacco use
Tobacco deserves special mention since it is a habit that is difficult to get rid of. Smokers, when they smoke, inhale tar along with nicotine and other substances. Tar is very gummy and it can penetrate porous enamel. Over time accumulation of these particles give the teeth a deep brown color. Neglect it and it will become difficult or even impossible to remove.
Smokers and those who chew tobacco are advised to rinse their mouth after they consume tobacco and go for regular teeth cleaning as well as whitening procedures at their dentist. The best thing is to give up smoking altogether.
Dark tooth after root canal procedure
The root canal procedure involves the use of drills to remove dead pulp tissue. Once this is complete the dentist puts in sealing material and then affixes a crown over the tooth. However, this tooth can look dark. This can be due to internal bleeding that coagulates and darkens. Dentin may also darken over time. There is nothing to worry about but if you do not like the dark color your dentist may remove the crown, open up the tooth and place a bleaching gel inside the pulp chamber.
The best toothpaste for discolored teeth
You can get quite a few over the counter products to whiten your discolored teeth. One such remedy is a whitening strip you affix on your teeth. Whitening toothpaste work slowly and you may have to use them for a week or more for results to show. There are brands such as Colgate Optic White Express, Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste, Arm & Hammer whitening toothpaste and Rembrandt Intense stain whitening toothpaste. How effective these pastes are depends on the quality of the stain. Intrinsic stains may not respond at all since toothpaste cannot get inside the enamel to the dentin layer. Light extrinsic stains can be removed with ease with these whitening toothpaste.
The best way to attend to discolorization is to visit your dentist who will first clean your teeth of tartar, conduct an in-depth exam and then use a carbamide peroxide gel with suitable gum protecting covers to carry out teeth whitening.