Teeth discoloration is common, the teeth can become discolored on the surface or by changes in the internal teeth’s materials. Your teeth can get stained due to your food and drink choices, oral hygiene, and the type of medications that you use. Most of the possible tooth discoloration causes could be possibly prevented, while others can be beyond our control.
In dentistry, tooth discoloration causes are divided into three main categories,they include (1):
- Extrinsic discoloration. This type of discoloration occurs when the enamel, which is the outermost layer of the tooth is stained. The stain particles tend to remain on the tooth enamel. In most cases, smoking and certain drinks like coffee, wine and cola causes extrinsic stains.
- Intrinsic discoloration. This tooth stain occurs when the dentin, which is the inner structure of the tooth gets stained. Here the stain particles set beneath the tooth surface after the enamel. Too much exposure to fluoride during early childhood is the most common cause of intrinsic tooth discoloration. In addition, you are more likely to have this type of tooth discoloration if your mother used tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy. Also you can develop an intrinsic stain if you had trauma that affected your tooth when you were a young child.
- Age-related discoloration. Naturally, the dentin appear yellow. Due to overtime exposure to erosive foods and drinks, the enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner, allowing the dentin to show through. Most people get this type of teeth discoloration as they get older or after a experiencing a chip or other injuries on the enamel.
Tooth discoloration causes
1. Medications: there are a number of certain medications that can contribute to tooth discoloration. Some medications including antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, and drugs used to manage high blood pressure can cause tooth discoloration. Sometimes antibiotics such as tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor the teeth when they are giving to children before the age of 8, when their teeth are still developing. In addition, mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can stain the teeth.
2. Tobacco use: smoking or chronic chewing on any form of tobacco product can stain teeth. Apart from tooth discoloration, tobacco use can also put you at a higher risk of gum disease and other serious oral health problems.
3. Certain foods and beverages: some foods and drinks may be healthy for the body but they can stain your teeth. Beverages such as coffee, tea, colas, wines, and certain fruit drinks can lead to tooth discoloration. Foods including apples, beets, blueberries, cherries, citrus fruits, cranberries, potatoes, raspberries, and tomatoes have tooth staining abilities.
4. Trauma: having your tooth chipped or otherwise damaged due to a fall can harm your tooth’s enamel, which can lead to discoloration of the tooth. Trauma is a common cause of stained tooth in both adults and children, although it tends to occur more often in children. Having a trauma that affected the tooth can disturb enamel formation in young children whose teeth are still developing. Once the enamel development is affected, the affected tooth will always appear discolored.
5. Aging: it is common to experience tooth erosion as we age, the enamel on your teeth gets worn away revealing the natural yellow color of dentin. Because the dentin is yellowish in color, this means that many people’s teeth start to look yellower as their enamel gets thinner than normal.
6. Genetics: the nature of your tooth structure can actually be determined by your genetic make-up. Some lucky people have naturally brighter or thicker enamel than others. So, genetics actually play a significant role in the brightness and thickness of your enamel. It which has a big impact on the apparent color of your teeth and the maintaiance of a bright smile.
7. Poor dental hygiene: excessive accumulation of stain-producing substances, plaque and bacteria on the teeth can cause tooth discoloration. Failing to brush and floss on a daily basis is one of the major contributors to tooth discoloration, it can even be worse if you take tobacco and coffee too. In addition, excessive fluoride either from environmental sources or from excessive use (fluoride applications, rinses, toothpaste, and fluoride supplements taken by mouth) can cause teeth discoloration. (2)
8. Disease: certain treatments for certain conditions and diseases that negatively affect the formation of enamel and dentin can lead to tooth discoloration. Certain infections in pregnant mothers can discolor the teeth of their infant by affecting enamel development. In addition, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can cause your teeth to discolor.
9. Dental materials: sometimes, certain materials that are being used in dentistry can cause tooth discoloration. For example, amalgam restorations especially silver sulfide-containing materials, can cast a gray-black color to teeth.
How to prevent tooth discoloration
Like I said earlier, some of the tooth discoloration causes are preventable while some are totally beyond our control. For those causes that we can control, making a few simple lifestyle changes may be able to prevent teeth discoloration. Brushing and rinsing your mouth with clean water after having wine, coffee or other drinks or foods that can stain your teeth will help to prevent some extrinsic stains.
However, intrinsic stains usually occur when the nerve or blood vessel in the inner part (the pulp) of a tooth becomes damaged or decayed. To prevent this type of discoloration, the dentist can remove the organic materials inside the tooth before it has a chance to decay completely and darken via a root canal treatment. For children, you can help them to prevent intrinsic stains by avoiding water that contains a high fluoride concentration.
Also, if notice that your teeth is discoloring without any explanation, then it might be a sign of an underlying health condition. Ensure to see your dentist as soon as possible if your tooth is discoloring, it can still be corrected. There are available treatment options to whiten a discolored tooth, but they can vary depending on the actual cause of the discoloration.p