Generally, there are ways to overcome staining and restore the natural brilliance your teeth should have. It begins first with finding the true cause for the discoloration and using the appropriate techniques to brighten your smile once again.
There are two types of tooth staining—stains that occur on the outside of the tooth and those that occur from within. Determining the type of staining you have is the first step to brighter, more attractive teeth.
Stains occurring on the outside of the tooth happen because of the structure of tooth enamel. While your teeth may feel smooth, the enamel actually contains microscopic depressions. These have a tendency to catch and retain stain-producing substances that come into our mouths. Food or beverages like red wine or tea can stain, as well as tobacco.
The other type of staining stems from causes within the tooth. Certain materials used for dental fillings or traumatic tooth injuries can alter tooth color significantly. In some cases, the tooth may not appear discoloured when viewed by itself, but stands out in relation to nearby teeth with a different shade of colour. Antibiotic treatment, may also cause staining if taken during tooth development.
Age also contributes to wear of the enamel layer of the tooth and staining as does excessive brushing.
What are your treatment options?
The treatment approach for stained teeth will depend on whether the staining is on the outside of the tooth or whether it stems from within the tooth. Changes in diet and lifestyle—like avoiding or limiting foods known to stain or quitting the use of any form of tobacco—will help reduce mild staining on the outside of the tooth. Along with flossing, twice-daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste that contains a whitening agent can remove stain-causing food remnants and add some brightness to your teeth. Twice-yearly visits to your dentist for professional teeth cleaning and polishing can also reduce this type of staining.
Teeth whitening (or bleaching) is another option, especially for staining that doesn’t fully respond to lifestyle or hygiene changes. Your Dentist can bleach your teeth with a professionally produced bleaching agent which along with other techniques can produce a brighter result in one session. Professional applications last longer on average before fading if you limit staining foods in your diet.
Only a dentist can perform bleaching techniques for stains originating inside a tooth, since it requires access to the tooth’s interior.
For optimum results sometimes a crown can be used to cover a heavily stained or discoloured tooth. In some cases where there is less staining or discolouration a porcelain veneer might be recommended, which is a thin layer of dental porcelain that’s permanently bonded to the front of a tooth.
A veneer and similar restorations may require some permanent tooth alteration before bonding; and while the veneer doesn’t stain, natural teeth near it can, and may need to be whitened occasionally to maintain a balanced colour match.