The Most Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration


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One of the things that people most commonly complain about is the color of their teeth. That is why there are so many products on the market that claim to whiten teeth. People recognize that their smile and teeth are one of the first things that make an impression on others. For that reason, tooth appearance is rightly a matter of concern for those with discolorations.

Getting to the heart of the matter, however, is the prevention of tooth discoloration. And that means understanding what causes teeth to change color in the first place, so let’s consider what can affect tooth coloration.

How Do Teeth Change Color?

You may be interested in learning that your tooth enamel is rather translucent. It is, therefore, usually the pigmentation of the dentin (the layer under the enamel) which determines tooth coloration. Of course, if the enamel gets discolored, it doesn’t matter what shade is underneath, so that needs to be considered too.

What can discolor a person’s dentin or enamel?

Aging – Your tooth pulp continues to make dentin to protect itself. Thus, as you age, your teeth may slightly darken due to the thickening of the dentin.

Genes – Some genetic disorders, such as Dentinogenesis Imperfecta, result in darker tooth enamel. These conditions are rare and usually diagnosed in youth.

Tooth Death – After an injury, a tooth may die. This darkens the tooth. A root canal can remove the dead or infected tissue and return the tooth to its normal color.

Medications – Certain medications, such as tetracycline, have been known to darken teeth in infants as a side effect when taken by a pregnant woman.

Fluorosis – When teeth are forming, fluoride levels that are too high in drinking water may result in brown and white spots in the enamel. Cosmetic procedures are needed to fix this discoloration.

Cavities – Cavities erode both enamel and dentin leaving a black stained area on a decaying tooth.

TobaccoTobacco can actually stain the enamel of a tooth. This is true whether the user smokes tobacco through cigarettes or a pipe, or if they chew the tobacco.

Drinks – Dark drinks like cola, tea, and coffee can all stain tooth enamel.

The Good New About External Stains

While dentin stains require a dental or cosmetic procedure to fix, enamel stains are often easier to deal with. In fact, your dentist likely offers a safe whitening procedure. Plus, you can help to avoid enamel stains by quitting habits such as tobacco use. You can limit stains from beverages by not over-indulging in dark drinks and by using a straw so that most of the liquid bypasses the teeth.

Yes, the appearance of your smile matters. Whether you want to look your best for a job interview or simply want to be able to smile proudly when pictures are being taken, avoiding and correcting tooth discoloration is important.

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The Most Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration
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Getting to the heart of the matter, however, is the prevention of tooth discoloration. And that means understanding what causes teeth to change color in the first place, so let’s consider what can affect tooth coloration.

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Marcus Hoang
Marcus Hoang

Dr. Rex Hoang is a family & cosmetic dentist in Washington D.C.. For more information on Dr. Hoang, visit www.dcdentalspa.com.

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