Stained teeth can cause even the most beautiful smile to appear not at its best.
It is actually quite easy to stain teeth and there are several factors that can contribute to staining. Teeth can become discoloured by stains that are either on the surface of the enamel of the tooth which are extrinsic stains or from with inside the tooth which are intrinsic stains. Aging, genetics and poor oral hygiene are also factors that can contribute to discoloured teeth.
Types of Discolouration
Extrinsic stains are typically caused by our diets and lifestyle choices. Drinks and foods that we consume can stain teeth. Even though it seems that our teeth are smooth and flat, the tooth enamel has tiny pits and ridges which makes it easy for food and drink particles to adhere to resulting in stains. Some of the top staining foods and drinks are: coffee, tea, wine, cola, fruit juices, sports drinks, sauces, curries, beets, pickles, dark vinegar, berries, coloured gum, candies that contain a colouring agent and popsicles. If you are wondering if a certain food or drink can stain teeth, a good thing to think about is whether or not that particular food or drink can stain a white piece of clothing. If it can then this is a good indicator that it can stain your teeth.
Other extrinsic stains can be caused by smoking cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Poor oral hygiene also plays a key role in the discolouration of teeth as this results in plaque and tartar building up, making teeth appear dull and yellow. Extrinsic stains can range in colour from light yellow, yellow streaks, grey, brown spots or even dark pits.
Intrinsic stains occur when the the dentin, the inner structure of the tooth darkers to a greyish colour or yellow. There are many ways this type of discoloration can occur.
- You had too much exposure to fluoride during early childhood.
- Your mother used tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy.
- You used tetracycline antibiotics when you were 8 years old or younger.
- You had trauma that affected a tooth when you were a young child. A fall, for example, may damage the developing permanent tooth.
- You had trauma in a permanent tooth, and internal bleeding discolored the tooth.
- You were born with a rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta. This causes gray, amber or purple discolorations.
Age and genetics also affects the colour of our teeth. As our teeth age, the dentin in our teeth naturally yellows over time as well as the enamel becomes thinner. This combination allows the dentin to show through the teeth making them appear yellow and stained. Discoloured aging teeth is a combination of both extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Micro cracks can also affect the appearance of teeth as over time these can fill up with stains and debris.
Tips to Minimize Staining
Lifestyles choices such as eliminating the use of tobacco products will help prevent teeth from becoming stained. To help lessen stains that are a result of eating and drinking, there are several steps that can be taken that will minimize the contact between your teeth and stain causing foods and drinks.
- After finishing your food or beverage, rinse your mouth out with water.
- If you are a coffee, tea or cola drinker try to consume these beverages at one sitting rather than sip on them throughout the day.
- Use a straw when sipping drinks to help keep staining beverages away from the front teeth. A straw would be more ideal for cold beverages such as colas, energy drinks, fruit juices and cold teas and not recommended with hot beverages.
- Swallow your food promptly as this will minimize the about of time stain causing food will be in contact with your teeth.
Intrinsic stains cannot be reduced or eliminated by avoiding certain foods and drinks and will require careful evaluation from your dentist as to source the cause of what is causing tooth discolouration.
Solutions for Whiter Teeth
A good oral hygiene routine will go a long way to help reduce extrinsic stains along with regular cleanings by your dental hygienist which helps to remove some surface stains.
Professional teeth whitening is a safe and effective solution to help whiten teeth. Using a whitening toothpaste and mouthwash after teeth whitening sessions will help maintain whiter teeth.
Since intrinsic stains are not topical and treated differently from extrinsic stains, your dentist will be able to provide options for whiter teeth.
If you have questions about stains and discolouration of your teeth and how you can achieve a whiter smile, please feel free to talk to your Burnaby Dentist at North Burnaby Dental Group.