Your smile is one of the first things that people will notice about you—so you should put effort into ensuring that your pearly whites always look their best. However, if your smile has become noticeably stained, you might be wondering what has caused the issue and how you should go about handling it. Here’s more from your cosmetic dentist so you can get your smile back to looking its absolute best!
Types of Tooth Stains
Tooth discoloration can occur as a result of surface stains, due to actual changes in your tooth material, or because of a combination of both factors. There are three main categories of tooth discoloration:
- Extrinsic staining – This occurs on the surface of the teeth, and it’s most often the result of pigmented residue from foods and beverages like coffee, as well as tobacco. These particles build up on the tooth enamel and cause discoloration.
- Intrinsic staining – This occurs below the surface of the tooth when stain-causing particles make their way through the outer layer. Excessive fluoride use can also result in intrinsic staining, especially in children.
- Age-related staining – Age-related staining is essentially the result of a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic staining. The core tissue of your teeth, the dentin, naturally yellows over time, and the enamel becomes thinner, making the discoloration more noticeable. Genetics can also contribute to this.
Addressing Tooth Discoloration
Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for a stained smile–regardless of the cause! Here are some ways that tooth discoloration is commonly addressed:
- In-office treatment – Your dentist has access to special tools and high-quality whitening agents that can blast away surface staining and have your pearly whites looking brilliantly whiter.
- At-home professional kits – If you’d prefer to whiten on your schedule, many dentists also offer take-home kits that’ll produce similar results to in-office treatment.
- Over-the-counter products – These products are widely available and include things like store-bought whitening gels and trays, but it’s worth noting that you get what you pay for when you purchase these cheaper options and they’re simply unable to produce the same results that a dentist can.
You might feel discouraged about your stained smile and hopeless about your options, but there’s no need to fret; these treatments exist solely to counteract all kinds of tooth stains, and your dentist is happy to navigate you through the entire process!
About the Author
Dr. Nelson Y. Howard received his DDS from the UCLA School of Dentistry and has proudly served patients and families in San Marcos and Rancho Bernardo for several years. His practice is thrilled to offer a wide range of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic treatment options as well as several ways of addressing teeth staining. If you have any questions about the article or would like to schedule a visit, feel free to contact Dr. Howard’s practice online to find the closest location to you.