Understanding the Different Types of Tooth Discoloration

By on April 10, 2015

Female with a bright, white smile that is free of stainsIf your teeth have become discolored, you have probably considered teeth whitening treatment to restore the sheen and luster of your teeth. While professional teeth whitening is an excellent option for many of Dr. Richard C. Ribeiro’s patients, teeth whitening is not always the best treatment option. What many patients do not realize is that there are actually several types of tooth discoloration. It is important for Dr. Ribeiro to determine what types of tooth discoloration are present. Contact our Clarksville practice so Dr. Ribeiro can exam your teeth and discuss the appropriate treatment options. By offering treatment that is best suited to each patient’s unique case, we can provide patients with maximum teeth whitening results.

Discoloration of Tooth Enamel

The majority of patients who have tooth discoloration or stains on their teeth are suffering from a form of tooth discoloration that is only present on the outer layer of the tooth, known as the enamel. This type of tooth discoloration is considered superficial and is the easiest type of discoloration to treat. There are several possible causes of extrinsic (or outer) discoloration, but most commonly, these stains and discoloration are a result of dark-colored foods and beverages. Food and drinks that are most likely to stain or discolor the teeth include the following:

  • Wine
  • Coffee
  • Colas
  • Berries

The second most common cause of extrinsic tooth discoloration is the use of cigarettes or chewing tobacco, both of which can drastically alter the color of the teeth. The good news about extrinsic tooth discoloration is that it responds well to teeth whitening treatment.

Discoloration of Tooth Dentin

When the dentin, or inner layer of the tooth, becomes discolored, it is known as intrinsic staining or discoloration. While not as common as extrinsic discoloration, many patients do suffer from this deeper type of tooth discoloration. When inner discoloration is present, it is most likely the result of a significant tooth trauma, overexposure to fluoride, or the use of certain medications. Unfortunately, because this type of discoloration is not superficial, it is not as responsive to traditional teeth whitening treatment. Patients with intrinsic tooth discoloration may require treatment that can improve the appearance of the tooth by concealing the stains and discoloration. Treatment options for intrinsic stains include dental bonding, dental crowns, and porcelain veneers.

Age-related Discoloration

Age-related tooth discoloration is often referred to as a different type of discoloration all together, but essentially, age-related tooth discoloration is likely to contain a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration. Most patients become more susceptible to extrinsic staining as the tooth enamel wears down and, similarly, as enamel wears away and weakens, the inner dentin of the tooth is more likely to show through, making intrinsic discoloration more likely for older patients as well. While teeth whitening treatment may provide some improvement for age-related discoloration, a dental crown or porcelain veneers may provide more adequate treatment.

Schedule an Appointment

Dr. Richard C. Ribeiro wants all of his patients to have a white and beautiful smile. The best way that he can help patients achieve that smile is by determining what type of tooth discoloration is present. If you are unhappy with the color of your teeth and would like to learn the best way to brighten your smile, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ribeiro at your earliest convenience. 

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Dr. Ribeiro has been my dentist for many years, and he has always provided exceptional service. His staff is very professional and courteous. They always go out of their way to ensure I have a pleasant experience. Tina Reed

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2305 Rudolphtown Rd
Clarksville, TN 37043

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Clarksville Office

2305 Rudolphtown Rd
Clarksville, TN 37043

More Info Directions (931) 645-6362