How to fix + whiten a discolored tooth (steps)

How to whiten a discolored tooth

To remove discoloration from a single darkened tooth is indeed possible. There are lots of cosmetic dental procedures out there, that dentists use to fix discolored teeth. Tooth discoloration can simply be a sign that something is wrong with the affected tooth. Discoloration is common after dental injuries, especially when the trauma damaged the inner part of the tooth. However, there are few other causes of tooth discoloration, which the dentist can identify using x-ray or any other suitable dental examination.

It’s also important to know that there are different types of teeth stains, the type of stain you have can determine the treatment and whitening option to be used.

Types of teeth stains

Generally in dentistry, teeth stains are divided into three main categories, they include: extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related stains (discoloration).

  • Extrinsic stains. This are usually superficial stains that appear when the white, outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained. Extrinsic stains are usually as a result of eating food or drinking beverages that have very strong colors and stain-producing substances that can cause tooth discoloration. Certain foods and drinks such as black tea, coffee, colas, wines, apples and potatoes can stain your teeth. In addition, not brushing, flossing, and rinsing regularly with an antiseptic mouthwash to remove plaque and stain-producing substances from the teeth can lead to extrinsic discoloration.
  • Intrinsic stains. This stains occur much deeper below the first layer of the tooth. They appear when the inner layer of the tooth (the dentin) darkens or gets a yellow tint. Unlike extrinsic stains, these stains appear more often as a result of side effect of some medications. The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor the teeth of young children whose teeth are still developing. Other medications such as antihistamines (like Benadryl), antipsychotic drugs, and drugs for high blood pressure also cause intrinsic teeth discoloration. In addition, the overexposure to fluoride and certain diseases which affects the teeth structures can discolor teeth.
  • Age-related stains. This type of stains occurs more often as a person ages. The outermost, white layer of the teeth (enamel) tends to get thinner with age, which allows the yellow colored dentin to show through. Frequent exposure to acidic foods or beverages and the use of abrasive dental care equipments can erode the enamel overtime, causing the dentin layer of the teeth to be showing.

How to whiten a discolored tooth

1. Teeth Whitening

Generally, the removal of extrinsic stains is much easier when compared to the removal of intrinsic stains. Extrinsic stains can be removed by in-office teeth whitening or take home teeth whitening kits. Tray-based tooth whiteners, whitening rinses, whitening strips and whitening toothpaste are usually recommended to help remove external staining on teeth. However, you can also help avoid getting the extrinsic stains in the first place by rinsing out your mouth with water after taking tooth-staining food and drink.

On the other hand, the easiest and most conservative way to remove intrinsic stains is to have the affected tooth internally bleached. To carry out internal bleaching, root canal treatment is often required to help open the tooth and allow the application of a whitening solution. Once the application is completed, the disclored tooth will lighten after some few days.

2. Tooth-colored crowns

Placing a colored dental crown that matches the color of the rest of your teeth is a popular way that most cosmetic dentists use to fix a discolored front tooth. Installing a tooth-colored crown completely over the affected tooth, will effectively mask the darkness of the tooth as well as match your existing natural teeth. Moreover, apart from teeth whitening, dental crowns are also used to cover cracked teeth and strengthen weak teeth after injury. If your tooth was discolored due to dental injury, a crown can be used to restore the color, structure and functionality of the tooth.

3. Dental Veneers

Porcelain veneer is a thin strip that go over a tooth to cover it up and change its appearance. Veneers are usually recommended to be placed on teeth which are still strong and healthy. Unlike clown where a portion of your tooth must be removed to ensure that your crown fits properly, you can keep more of your existing tooth with a veneer. Veneers are tooth-colored too, they are thin shell of porcelain and can fit over the front of a tooth to hide its irregularities. In addition, veneers are specially designed to be as close in color as possible to the rest of your smile so people will not know that you have them.

4. Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is often recommended for chipped discolored tooth. It is a common procedure in cosmetic dentistry that involves the use of composite resin materials to whiten a discolored tooth. At first, the composite resin is molded directly onto the discolored tooth and then hardened with a special light to quickly repair the chipped tooth. Once everything is set, the cosmetic dentist will use the correct color composite resin according to your teeth to ensure a natural look. After the procedure is completed, the treated tooth should look just like the other natural, existing teeth in your mouth.

5. Dental implant

This procedure involves the extraction of the discolored teeth and then having them replaced with artificial teeth. Well, dental implants is not always necessary but am just trying to show you that it’s possible to correct tooth discoloration by having the affected tooth replaced with white colored, artificial tooth. Unlike dental crowns, veneers and bonding, a dental implant is a permanent replacement tooth that is put in place of the discolored tooth. However, implants will only work for you if you have healthy gums and good bone density to support the implant. To save costs, the implants also works well if you have a couple discolored teeth next to one another because the implant can cover several teeth at once. You can check here to see – dental implants cost, dental implants pictures and types of dental implants.

Well, like I said earlier, dental implants do not work well for everyone. The shape of your mouth, the location of the discolored tooth (teeth), the health of your periodontal ligaments and the strength or density of your jaw bone will determine whether you are a suitable candidate for dental implants.

Final Thoughts

Tooth discoloration especially those caused by extrinsic stains are quite common but they can be prevented. Making a few simple lifestyle changes such as avoiding teeth-staining foods, smoking or tobacco use and regular brushing, flossing, and the use of suitable mouthwash can help to prevent teeth stains. Fortunately, there are lots of cosmetic dental procedures out there to help whiten discolored teeth. Veneers, crowns and dental bonding can be used to cover up teeth stains.

However, if the discolored tooth has suffered from extensive amount of damage that can’t be saved. A dental implant which is a permanent replacement tooth can be put in place of the damaged, discolored tooth.

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