Treating Tooth Discoloration to Restore a Bright, White Smile

Oct 14, 2014

Tooth discoloration and unsightly stains are cosmetic dental problems that affect many of our patients at DeJesus Dental Group. For many, teeth whitening can successfully erase stains to restore a bright, white color to the teeth. However, it is important to understand that not all tooth discoloration is the same. There are actually different types of tooth discoloration, and determining what type of discoloration is present is vital to offering our Bridgeport patients effective tooth discoloration treatments. By treating each type of tooth discoloration uniquely, our cosmetic dentists can ensure that our patients are able to enhance the color of their teeth and the overall appearance of their smile.


Treating Extrinsic Stains

Extrinsic stains are the most common type of tooth discoloration. When tooth discoloration is described as extrinsic, it means that the stain or discoloration is present on the outer surface of the tooth/teeth, also known as the enamel. Extrinsic discoloration is most likely to be caused by the repeated exposure of stain-causing substances. For example, extrinsic stains may be caused by any of the following:

  • Cigarettes or chewing tobacco
  • Coffee or tea
  • Cola soft drinks
  • Wine

While extrinsic stains may be deep-set if they have been around awhile, they do not actually penetrate to the inner layer of the tooth. Because these stains are only present on the outer layer of the teeth, they are easy to treat. The most typical treatment for extrinsic tooth discoloration is teeth whitening. The professional-strength bleach in our in-office and at-home teeth whitening treatments can effectively eliminate surface stains and brighten the teeth by several shades. Although teeth whitening often provides patients with the results they want, those with extrinsic stains may also consider alternative treatment such as dental bonding or porcelain veneers.

Treating Intrinsic Stains

Intrinsic stains differ from extrinsic stains in that they exist on the inner layer of the tooth, known as the dentin. If the dentin is discolored, it can show through the enamel of the tooth, giving a dingy appearance to the tooth. This is especially a problem for those patients whose enamel has been damaged or worn down, therefore showing the inner layer of the tooth more clearly. While extrinsic stains are commonly caused by foods or beverages, the causes of intrinsic stains are those that effect the actual structure of the tooth, and include the following:

  • Overexposure to fluoride
  • Use of certain medications
  • Internal bleeding, traumatic injury, or a “dead” tooth
  • Acid erosion

Because extrinsic stains actually affect the inner structure of the tooth, they do not respond to the bleaching components that are present in teeth whitening products. In order to treat intrinsic stains, our dentists will need to conceal discoloration and create a whiter, more attractive restoration for the tooth. Depending on the number of teeth affected and the extent of discoloration, this may be achieved with dental bonding, dental crowns, or porcelain veneers.

Schedule an Appointment

When the teeth are dingy in color or marred by stains it can negatively affect the entire smile. While a healthy smile is ideal, at DeJesus Dental Group we strive to provide our patients with smiles that are equally healthy and beautiful. If you would like to improve the appearance of your smile by treating discoloration and brightening the color of the teeth, schedule an appointment to learn about our cosmetic dental treatments. We look forward to hearing from you!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a qualified dental professional to determine the best dental/orthodontic treatment for your needs.