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  • Writer's pictureMahesh

What causes discolouration on my teeth?

Surveys show that the majority of people are unhappy with the colour of their teeth despite a good oral hygiene regime.

People find stains build up over time regardless of their regular brushing and flossing. This can be caused by a number of different things. To help understand better let us first look at the structure of a tooth.

Anatomy of a Tooth

The tooth consists of 4 “layers”:

Enamel – hard outer layer that protects your teeth from decay

Dentine – the second layer of the tooth consisting of living tissue that communicates with the nerve of your teeth

Pulp – the soft center of the tooth made up of the nerve, blood vessels and connective tissues

Cementum – connective tissue which forms along the roots of the teeth, binding them to the gums and jawbone

Causes of Discoloration:

Extrinsic Teeth Stains

These are the stains where the cause and effect is most obvious as they are on the outer surface of the teeth – the enamel. Extrinsic stains are mostly caused by the pigmentation in what we consume and so staining on the tooth enamel gradually worsens over time.

Common causes for staining include:

  • Wine

  • Coloured foods (e.g. tomato pasta sauces, curry, etc.)

  • Coffee/Tea

  • Carbonated soft drinks

Luckily, these are superficial and the easiest to resolve!

Intrinsic Teeth Stains

Intrinsic staining of teeth affects the inner layer of the teeth – the dentine. The dentine may darken or become yellow and the discoloration can be particularly noticeable if the outer layer (enamel) has been worn away too.

Staining on the inside of the tooth is usually affected by health related aspects such as:

  • Too much fluoride when young

  • Medications (Tetracycline Antibiotics)

  • Trauma which has lead to nerve damage

  • Tooth decay

  • Genetics

Although more difficult to treat; intrinsic stains have worked into the tooth and so different methods are needed.

Age-related Discolouration

Cracks and fractures may appear over time and this can cause the staining to become more prominent.

Unfortunately, over time the enamel will wear away exposing the (yellower) dentine layer.

Metal Fillings

Amalgam Metal was a popular material over previous years for filling teeth. Although it is still used today when possible we aim to use composite (white) fillings. The reason for this is metal fillings may give teeth a more grey appearance.

Changing the Colour of Your Teeth

Your dentist here at Roseville will assess your teeth and provide you with information regarding the cause of your discolouration, and how to remedy this to get the best results.

Although the high street options may be tempting and cheaper (e.g. whitening toothpaste) the results are very limited for extrinsic staining. They will have no affect on intrinsic staining.

Self-Prescribed Home Whitening Kits

Occasionally people will decide to buy home whitening kits which are not prescribed by a dental professional. These can occasionally cause damage to the tissues, enhance sensitivity or have no impact at all as a lot of these products are not regulated.

Taking Steps Towards Whiter Teeth

Initially, you will need to visit your dentist who will diagnose the type of staining you have and give you a treatment plan with options to help you achieve the desired shade.

Your dentist may recommend visiting a hygienist to remove superficial staining and promote good gum health. This will lead to improved oral hygiene and maintaining the results, sometimes a visit to the hygienist will achieve desired results - however, there are further you can take.

Here at Roseville, we offer a number of routes for whiter teeth. These include:

  • Zoom Laser Whitening, this involves coming to the practice and having a 2 hour appointment where a laser is placed over your teeth and whitening gels are applied. This is usually the best way to achieve whiter teeth quickly.

  • Home Whitening, with home whitening trays are custom made for you. You will then be given tubes of whitening to take home and use over specified period of time. These are also given when you have Zoom Whitening to maintain results.

  • Cosmetic veneers and crowns, in instances where whitening is not suitable we offer a range of treatments which can enhance the appearance of your teeth. Your dentist will advise you on the best route to take.

For all cosmetic treatments we offer a free 15 minute consultation!

Despite the above options it is imperative to remain good oral health. Regular visits to the dentist and hygienist will help when maintaining your brighter smile.


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