The discolored tooth or teeth may be of great concern to some people and cause them to be low in self-esteem. We all know that the aesthetics improvement of someone’s smile can have a profound effect on one’s confidence and well-being. Many a times, many will seek professional dental advice for treatment, while some shy ones simply try out all different tooth whitening products in the market and fail to achieve any results. Before one decide to try out any of the teeth whitening products, it would be prudent to understand what exactly caused the tooth/teeth discoloration.
WHY IS MY TEETH STAINED
Generally, the causes of tooth/teeth discoloration may be classified into 2 broad categories, namely;
1. Extrinsic Stain (Superficial and be removed by cleaning away the surface pellicle)
2. Intrinsic Stain ( Deep and cannot be removed by cleaning alone)
Tea and coffee stains most common.
Light brown to black in color. Occurs more on the surface of teeth facing the tongue and palate. However, the quantity of stain is not proportional to amount of tobacco used. Increased deposits result with neglect of oral hygiene.
Black line next to the gingivae (gums). Made up of bacteria (gram positive rods and actinomycetes)
Usually occur on the libial surface of the upper anterior teeth. Made up of chromogenic bacteria and fungi, decomposed haemoglobin and inorganic elements (calcium, potassium, sodium, silicon, magnesium etc.)
Generalized yellow dull staining of dental plaque by the dyes in food stuff.
As a result of long term use of mouthrinses containing the active ingredient, chlorhexidine, some may find that brown or black deposits on the tooth surfaces.
Ingestion of excessive fluoride during teeth development can lead to deposition of fluoride on enamel. In mild cases, the teeth presents with irregular white spots while severe cases may be more yellow, grey or black with pittings.
During development of teeth, the administration of antibiotics like tetracycline can result in banding appearance (yellow/ brown/ blue/ black) on the surface of the teeth. This is uniformed throughout the dentine and enamel.
Tooth decay presents as a black or darkened cavity on a tooth which is visible to one as he/ she looks into the mirror. Sometimes, amalgam restorations (fillings) may show through the thinner walls of the tooth. A breakdown due to wear and tear of the restoration will presents as gaps or staining of the margins.
Inherited condition in which the tooth has defective enamel matrix production. The thin outer layer of enamel appears yellow to brown, revealing the yellow colour of the dentine within.
Inherited condition which affects dentine formation. Dentine is incompletely formed as chromogens are absorbed into the porous tubules after exposure in the mouth. The teeth may appear as amber, grey to purplish-bluish discoloration or opalescence.
Result of trauma to the tooth which eventually caused the tooth to become non-vital. The collection of blood products within the root canal leads to single tooth discoloration.
The natural darkening and yellowing of teeth with age and the change in their light transmission properties is due to a combination of both enamel and dentine changes. The enamel undergoes both thinning and textural changes while the deposition of secondary and tertiary dentine and pulp stones all contribute to the darkening process of aging.
All said and done, tooth discoloration creates a wide range of cosmetic problems and most of the time, the causes of discoloration are complex and varied. While extrinsic staining generally requires removal of the surface chromogens via scaling and polishing followed by good maintenance of oral hygiene, intrinsic staining may require more comprehensive treatment by the dental surgeon.
Without determination of the root cause, consumers are advised not to jump into buying a tooth whitening product off the shelf and hoped that it work. Unless the cause of the discoloration is a straight forward one, it would be prudent to first consult a dental surgeon for a thorough examination to be carried out and seek the advice for the treatment options.