Jul 13, 2023
Tooth Discolouration: What Causes It and How You Can Prevent It
We all want a bright and healthy smile. But sometimes, tooth discolouration gets in the way. Tooth discolouration is the staining or darkening of your teeth, and can have a variety of underlying causes. Today, we’ll dive into all that you need to know about tooth discolouration and what you can do to get that radiant smile back.
The Type of Tooth Discolouration
- Extrinsic DiscolourationExtrinsic discolouration refers to when the outer layer of the tooth, known as the enamel, becomes stained or discoloured. This is usually caused by external environmental factors, such as consuming certain foods and beverages.
- Intrinsic DiscolourationIntrinsic discolouration begins inside your tooth and affects the layer underneath your enamel called dentin. Common causes include dental trauma and some medications.
Common Causes of Tooth Discolouration
- Food and Drinks Dark-coloured food and drinks like coffee, cola and red wine contain pigments that can adhere to the enamel of your teeth over time. Regular consumption without a proper oral hygiene routine can eventually lead to intrinsic staining over time.
- Tobacco Use Smoking or chewing tobacco products can cause significant tooth discolouration. This is because the nicotine and tar found inside them can penetrate the enamel, resulting in persistent stains that are stubborn and hard to remove.
- Poor Oral Hygiene Poor oral hygiene, generally due to a lack of brushing or flossing, can lead to a buildup of plaque and tatar on your teeth. This will eventually lead to discolouration and abnormally high amounts of bacteria in your mouth, resulting in tooth decay and intrinsic staining.
- AgeingAs we get older, our tooth enamel gets thinner and thinner. This exposes the dentin hiding underneath, which has a yellow hue and can lead to your teeth appearing discoloured with age.
- GeneticsThe natural colour, brightness and translucency of your teeth are different for everyone, and can be heavily influenced by genetics.
- Dental TraumaDamage to your teeth caused by anything from car crashes to sports-related injuries can cause trauma that then leads to discolouration.
- Health ConditionsCertain health conditions such as liver disease, celiac disease and eating disorders can cause a higher chance of teeth discolouration occurring.
Treatments for Teeth Discolouration
- Professional Teeth WhiteningProfessional teeth whitening, performed by a trusted dentist, is a popular and effective way to treat mild cases of both intrinsic and extrinsic tooth discolouration. It’s achieved by the application of bleaching agents using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide which is able to break down stains and restore the natural whiteness of the teeth. Most in-office bleaching treatments take an hour or so to complete, whereas take-home treatments typically demand 30 to 60-minute daily treatments for up to six weeks.
- Dental VeneersDental veneers are thin, custom-made shells made of either porcelain(Veneers) or composite resin. They are bonded to the front surface of your teeth and are most suitable for the most severe cases of intrinsic discolouration where whitening won’t work and other cosmetic problems such as chips or gaps. They are a permanent, irreversible solution and must be replaced every 5 to 15 years depending on how well you maintain them.
- Composite BondingComposite bondings involve the application of a tooth-coloured resin material to the affected teeth. It’s also commonly used to repair chipped or decaying teeth while also addressing minor cases of intrinsic discolouration, helping to give teeth a more consistent appearance. Although it’s a much more affordable solution than veneers, composite bonding works best when you only have one or two discoloured teeth as you’ll need a touch-up every 5 to 7 years.
- Dental CrownsDental crowns, also known as caps, are tooth-shaped restorative materials that encase the entire visible portion of a damaged or discoloured tooth. It can be made from many materials, such as porcelain, and is a great solution for severe intrinsic discolouration or structural issues. Dental crowns are an excellent solution for those whose discolouration is due to cavities, as it improves the health and function of your teeth in addition to their appearance.