The Not So Pearly White Blues: Tooth Discoloration Types

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There are few ideals in life more desirable than a vibrant, youthful, radiant smile. Unfortunately, whether due to genetics, exposure to staining agents, or the simple passage of time, most people find that their smiles lose a little of their natural luster over the years. While cosmetic dentistry offers a number of excellent solutions to tooth discoloration, from professional teeth whitening to porcelain veneers, it is only natural to wonder why our teeth don’t retain their original whiteness as we age.

At the general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry practice of Dr. Toni Sartini, we believe that our responsibility to our patients does not end with providing them with the finest dental treatments available. We believe that our patients deserve to be educated about their oral health so that they can better understand how to care for their teeth and gums between visits to our practice. To that end, we help our patients not only to achieve whiter teeth, but also to understand the different tooth discoloration types during consultations at our New Albany office.  Equally importantly, we provide them with tips on to prevent recurrences of these types of discoloration going forward.

Basic Types of Tooth Discoloration
It is important to distinguish between sources of discoloration and types of discoloration. There are countless sources of discoloration; virtually any colored berry could be counted as a potential source of discoloration. However, all tooth discoloration can be divided into one of two basic types:

Extrinsic discoloration: This type of discoloration is the type most people are referring to when they come into our office with complaints of “teeth stains.” Extrinsic discoloration, as the name implies, involves the surfaces of the teeth; it does not penetrate the protective enamel layer. These are the stains that occur from exposure over the years to coffee, tea, colas, red wine, berries, tobacco, and dark vegetables; they can also result from simple wear and tear over time. Because extrinsic discoloration is superficial, it tends to respond well to professional teeth whitening treatments.
Intrinsic discoloration: This type of discoloration is somewhat trickier to treat than extrinsic discoloration because, as its name suggests, it involves the layer of the tooth that lies beneath the enamel, the dentin. These are the stains that result from root canal infections, failed crowns and other dental restorations, certain medications, genetics, overexposure to fluoride, trauma, and enamel erosion as the result of age. Intrinsic discoloration tends to manifest itself as purplish or greyish stains that do not respond as well to professional teeth whitening treatments. However, porcelain veneers, dental crowns, and dental bonding are often effectively used to conceal intrinsic discoloration with outstanding success.
Learn More about Tooth Discoloration Types
Ultimately, it does not matter which type of tooth discoloration you are experiencing. Thanks to modern cosmetic dentistry, you can have a radiant, naturally beautiful smile free from discoloration of any sort in just a few office visits. To learn more about how we can give you the smile you deserve, please contact the dental practice of Dr. Toni Sartini today.