Our teeth have a topmost layer called enamel which is thin and whitish in color. The second layer is dentin which is comparatively thicker and yellowish in color. As the dentin constitutes the main bulk of the tooth it imparts the yellowish color to the tooth. Deciduous teeth are whiter in shade than permanent teeth. Tooth stains also termed as tooth discoloration is abnormal tooth color. Your teeth can become discolored by stains on the surface or by changes inside the tooth.
The stains can occur either on the surface of the tooth or when the inner structure of the tooth darkens. The stains that occur on the surface of the tooth are called extrinsic stains teeth. The stains that occur due to the inner layer of the tooth getting darkened are the intrinsic stains. Age-related staining is a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Dentin naturally yellows over time. The enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner with age, which allows the dentin to show through.
Causes of Extrinsic Tooth Stain
- Plaque that gets deposited over a long period of time hardens to form calculus. This calculus is yellow to brown in color.
- Tobacco consumption.
- Certain food items like turmeric, red wine, tea or coffee.
- Long-term usage of chlorhexidine mouthwashes.
- Long-term usage of iron supplements.
Causes of Intrinsic Tooth Stain
- A pharmaceutical drug like tetracyclines during pregnancy can result in discolored tooth of baby.
- Exposure to metals like mercury, lead etc.
- Fluorosis: is the condition that causes yellow or brownish stains if fluoride containing water is consumed during the developmental stage of teeth.
- Trauma to the tooth.
- Non-vital tooth: if the pulp is necrosed due to tooth decay or injury.
- Certain systemic diseases like sickle cell anaemia.
- Pathologic defects of teeth like amelogenesis imperfecta , hypo or hypercalcaemia etc.
- The ageing process also results in darker coloration of the tooth due to the formation of repairative dentin.
Prevention and Tooth Stain Removal
- Following proper brushing and flossing technique.
- Avoiding stains causing food items, smoking and tobacco.
- Preventing the consumption of tetracycline during pregnancy.
- Dental bleaching could be done to lighten the shade of the teeth.
- Scaling that is cleaning of your tooth should be done by the dentist.
- Air polishing of teeth removes the stains and brings the lustre back.
- Intrinsic stains can be corrected by veneers or crowns.