In most cases, dental stains (i.e. stained teeth) are the result of certain foods and drinks. Dark-colored foods, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and berries, contain pigmented molecules called chromogens. When you routinely consume these things, the chromogens will attach to your dental enamel. Over time, your teeth will develop a yellowish or brownish tint. Additionally, acidic foods can wear away at your outer dental enamel. The underlying layer of your tooth, known as dentin, has a slight yellow tint. It is also more porous, so chromogens will attach to it more readily. Smoking, age, and environmental factors can also cause “extrinsic” dental stains on the outside of teeth. Extrinsic stains can be removed by dental bleaching. If the measures you have taken have been ineffective, discuss your concern with Dr. Jamie Alexander and our dental hygienist.
Your stains may be “intrinsic” stains deep within the tooth. Intrinsic dental stains are a less common type of discoloration. These stains usually result from certain medications, such as tetracycline, or trauma that caused bleeding inside the tooth. Unfortunately, teeth whitening treatments cannot address intrinsic stains. Instead, Dr. Alexander can use tooth-colored dental bonding, porcelain veneers, or crowns to cover intrinsic stains. He will discuss the advantages and costs of various cosmetic treatment options with you and help you make the decision that is appropriate for you.