Tooth discoloration can lead to extreme self-consciousness about the look of your smile. If you have discolored teeth, teeth whitening administered by a cosmetic dentist can help restore the look of your smile. However, the effectiveness of teeth whitening can depend upon the type of discoloration affecting your teeth.
Types of Tooth Discoloration
There are two basic types of tooth discoloration: intrinsic and extrinsic staining. Extrinsic staining is the easiest to treat with tooth whitening, because it affects only the outer layers of the enamel. A whitening agent can remove the stains, particularly if they have not been neglected long enough to become severe. [pullquote]Intrinsic staining discolors deeper layers of enamel and even the dentin of the tooth, making it more difficult for teeth whitening to achieve an effective result.[/pullquote]
Intrinsic staining is more difficult to treat. This is because it affects more than just the surface layers of the teeth. Intrinsic staining discolors deeper layers of enamel and even the dentin of the tooth, making it more difficult for teeth whitening to achieve an effective result.
Causes of Intrinsic Staining
Intrinsic staining can occur either before the teeth have emerged, while they are still developing, or after they have emerged. Pre-eruptive staining, which occurs while the teeth are developing, is most often caused by medications or by fluoride. The most common causes of pre-eruptive intrinsic staining are excess fluoride intake either by the mother during pregnancy or by the child while the permanent teeth are developing. Tetracycline, an antibiotic, is also a common cause of this type of discoloration.
Post-eruptive staining occurs after the teeth have emerged. The most common causes of this kind of intrinsic staining are trauma and extrinsic staining that reaches the inner layers of the teeth through cracks or surface damage.
Trauma can create intrinsic discoloration when blood from a damaged pulp fills the small tubes inside the tooth. This can also occur during a root canal treatment if the pulp chamber is not properly closed after treatment.
Our experienced cosmetic dentist can help you determine the best way to treat intrinsic staining. If your teeth are stained and traditional tooth whitening has not helped, please call the office of Dr. Nicholas Kemp Dentistry to schedule a consultation.