Two primary classes of tooth stains: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic tooth stains are stains on the surfaces of teeth. Intrinsic tooth stains are found on the inside of the tooth, within its inner layers, in the dentin or in the pulp area. A simple way to remember the difference is to think of extrinsic tooth stains as being on the exterior of the tooth and intrinsic tooth stains on the interior of the tooth.
In general, extrinsic tooth stains are caused by certain habits like not brusing, flossing or seeing your dentist on a regular basis; drinking coffee, tea or wine; eating berries, soy sauce or curries; and smoking or chewing tobacco. Intrinsic stains may be caused by tooth traumas (a broken tooth or chipped tooth), certain antibiotics (tetracycline), and dental conditions (fluorosis). Genetics also play a big role in the color of your teeth and their tendency to stain. And aging can cause both extrinsic and intrinsic tooth stains.
Avoiding stained teeth requires brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist regularly. Professional teeth cleanings can help remove minor extrinsic tooth stains. For more stubborn stains or intrinsic stains, professional teeth whitening, micro-abrasion or veneers may be perfect solutions. A consultation with your dentist is the place to start, since extrinsic and intrinsic tooth stains are treated differently, but we can prepare you by discussing the different types of solutions available.
Teeth Whitening – Most extrinsic tooth stains respond well to professional teeth whitening treatments. Laser teeth whitening is the preferred choice of many patients these days because of its bleaching power and time-saving advantages (treatments take about an hour!).
Micro-Abrasion – Micro-abrasion may be effective for tooth stains caused by fluorosis. Micro-abrasion involves polishing away tooth stains with a mixture of hydrochloric acid and pumice. This process removes a very thin layer of enamel to reveal whiter, more evenly colored teeth.
Porcelain Dental Veneers – Another option is to cover your stained teeth altogether with porcelain dental veneers. Porcelain veneers are an exciting cosmetic dentistry invention that can dramatically transform stained teeth, crooked teeth or chipped teeth into bright white, perfectly straight teeth in one visit.