April 15, 2024

Causes of Teeth Discoloration and How To Fix It

Tooth discoloration is abnormal tooth color caused by the accumulation of stains on the surface of the tooth. These stains can be on the surface or in the interior of the tooth.

External discoloration is caused by the buildup of stain on the outside of the teeth while internal discoloration is due to incorporation of color particles into the tooth.

Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Teeth stains affect many people and they are mainly caused by:

  • Food and drinks with strong color
  • Tobacco use
  • Certain medicines e.g. antibiotics
  • Excess fluoride in drinking water
  • Age
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Diseases
  • Chipped or erode enamel damage

Types of Teeth Discoloration

They are categorized into 2 types:

  • Extrinsic tooth discoloration
  • Intrinsic tooth discoloration

Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

This is a stain that occurs on the outer part of the tooth. It is yellow and covers the enamel of the tooth which is the outer layer of the tooth that protects the inner soft part of the tooth.

Normally this is a result of consuming food and drinks which have a strong color, for example, black tea which naturally has a high level of tannin. Smoking can also cause extrinsic discoloration.

Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

It occurs in the sensitive layer called the dentin underneath the enamel. The discoloration is not spread over the entire tooth, but it is usually dark yellow and is visible when the enamel is worn out.

Antibiotic use is normally associated with this type of stain. It can also come about as a result of too much exposure to fluoride, disease, or eroding of the enamel exposing the dentin. Age also causes natural discoloration of the dentin.

Preventing Teeth Discoloration

Changing a few lifestyle behaviors will prevent teeth discoloration. For instance, if you are a tobacco user (smoking or chewing) consider quitting. It is recommended to rinse your mouth with clean water after having drinks like wine, coffee, and foods that can cause staining of the teeth.

However, home remedies do not always clear these stains. This is where teeth whitening comes in.

Teeth Whitening and How It Works

Clearing teeth discoloration is carried out depending on type of stain you have. Dentists normally check your oral health and recommended the best method for you, based on the severity of the stain.

Bleaching works bests for teeth that are yellow. People with sensitive teeth are advised to avoid chemical whitening techniques that irritate tender gums.

Teeth whitening is also not advisable if your teeth have fillings or caps. The bleaching gel has ingredients that open up pores of your tooth allowing the active agent in the bleach to get through the pores of the enamel into the inner part of the tooth to remove the stain particles.

Whitening Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

These occur on the surface of the tooth and are not hard to remove. Whitening toothpaste is used to treat this stain. Unlike ordinary toothpaste, they contain a polishing agent which increases their effectiveness. However, you first need consult your doctor before using any of these products.

Whitening Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

This type of discoloration is a bit difficult to remove as it occurs in the tooth dentin. Methods like veneers, tooth bonding, and internal bleaching are used to remove these stains.


These are thin custom-made tooth shells designed from porcelain or resin composite materials to cover the front surface of the teeth, thus changing their color, size, shape or length.

Tooth Bonding

In dental bonding, putty-like resin (plastic) material is applied to the tooth and hardened with laser light, bonding the material to the tooth. Trimming, shaping, and polishing is then done to refine it. Bonding repairs chipped, misshapen and decayed teeth.

Internal Bleaching

This method is advisable when color changes occur in the pulp and if external cleaning does not wash away the stain. An oxidizing chemical substance is inserted into the tooth’s pulp through a small incision drilled into the pulp chamber from the back of the tooth.

Is Whitening Treatment Safe?

If you follow the dentist’s approved ways, teeth whitening is considered safe. You first need to make sure that the method you choose fits your needs and follow instructions of the product. Consult a professional dentist if you experience any side effects. Visit the Graham Family Clinic for a cosmetic dentistry session and change your smile for good.