While it is perfectly normal that no one’s teeth are perfectly white and that teeth can become a little duller in appearance as we age, obvious tooth discolouration can deter a person’s confidence. Genetics also have a role to play in the colour of your teeth too but where the natural shades of your teeth has become so distorted that theyappear yellow, brown, or even spotted, it can understandably leave you feeling quite self-conscious about your smile.
There are 2 different types of tooth discolouration, each with different likely causes and treatments:
Extrinsic discolouration occurs when the outer layer of the tooth enamel becomes stained due to the consumption of certain substances.
- Frequent consumption of particular foods and drinksparticularly coffee, tea, red wine, soy sauce, soft drinks –cola most prolifically – and fruits and vegetables such asberries, apples and potatoes.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco, consumption of any tobacco based products.
- Long term, poor oral hygiene.
Professional tooth whitening can offer significant improvements to extrinsically discoloured teeth after just one session. A certified and trained dental professional like Dr. Thomas Munroe can conduct a safe whitening treatment involving the use of a bleaching agent on the surface of the teeth to restore your smile to its natural appearance. You will likely be provided with an effective home whitening system to use in the subsequent weeks following your treatment to ensure long-lasting results.
Where the discolouration runs particularly deep, it may not be possible to achieve your desired results through teeth whitening. In such instances, our patients have found porcelain veneers to be a more suitable option as they serve to effectively mask any stains from view and restore the appearance of natural teeth.
Intrinsic tooth discoloration is the result of dental stains from within the tooth itself. The internal structure of the tooth – known as the dentin – darkens or turns a yellow shade.
- Prescription medicines such as tetracycline and doxycycline antibiotics, anti-histamines, anti-psychotics and anti-hypertensives, especially if taken during childhood while adult teeth are developing.
- Nerve damage due to chipped, damaged or broken teeth.
- Excessive exposure to fluoride especially during childhood can lead to dental fluorosis, a condition that causes white spots or lines on the teeth.
- Genetics – some people can be born with varying levels of intrinsic tooth discolouration.
- Ageing – Wear and tear over time can gradually lead to intrinsic discolouration.
Since teeth whitening treatments can only improve the appearance of the exterior of your teeth, they are not an effective solution for intrinsic discolouration. Dental veneers are often the best first port of call for treating intrinsic discolouration. The veneer effectively masks the visible stains and instantly assumes the appearance of a natural tooth. Veneers are porcelain covers which are effectively cemented onto the teeth. They can fix the appearance of broken, chipped or crooked teeth as well as intrinsically discoloured teeth.
Where teeth have serious intrinsic stains, patients may need to consider dental crowns instead of dental veneers. Following an initial examination, your dentist will be able to provide advice on the treatment which will offer you the best results.
While intrinsic discolouration can be difficult to prevent, there are some active measures that you can take to prevent extrinsic discolouration.
- Avoid smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol, particularly frequent consumption of red wine.
- Limit your intake of coffee, tea and soft drinks as well as berries, beets, apples, potatoes and sauces.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine; ensuring to brush your teeth twice daily and flossing at least once daily.
- Attend regular dental check-ups, getting your teeth professionally cleaned at least once every 6 months.
Don’t allow tooth discolouration to deter your confidence. No matter the level of discolouration, there are effective dental treatments available to resolve the issue and restore the appearance of the tooth to its natural state.