While you might think that a brilliantly bright smile is strictly reserved for the celebrities you see on TV and in magazines, your Newberg cosmetic dentist Dr. Jennifer McLeod wants all of her patients to have the whitest smile possible. However, to enjoy a great looking smile, it’s important that you realize the causes of tooth discoloration. That way, you’ll have the knowledge needed to help fight against this unsightly problem.
Most causes of tooth discoloration fall into one of two categories – intrinsic and extrinsic stains. Tooth discoloration can also be caused from a variety of underlying health factors, so make sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. McLeod to have the current state of your smile assessed prior to beginning any whitening treatments.
You’ll see the evidence of extrinsic stains on the surface of your teeth’s enamel, the hard outer layer that protects the delicate interior of your tooth. While enamel is harder and more durable than bone, it can become stained rather easily.
The most common causes of teeth staining are the lifestyle choices we make. Drinking coffee, tea, wine, or soda, using tobacco, and eating enamel staining like tomatoes and berries all help to discolor tooth enamel. These types of items contain high levels of chromogens, substances that produce pigments that have a tendency to stick to tooth enamel.
Consuming foods and drinks with a high acidity can make matters of tooth erosion even worse. When tooth enamel begins to breakdown, chromogens have an easier time sticking to the surface of your teeth.
Intrinsic stains develop within the tooth itself due to a variety of factors that causes alterations to the light-transmitting properties of the enamel and the material underneath.
Multiple prescription medications can cause intrinsic staining as a side effect. The antibiotic tetracycline, for example, can cause intrinsic staining if taken by children while their teeth are still developing. For adults, the acne-fighting drug minocycline can stain teeth, as can using prescription mouthwashes that contain the gingivitis fighting antiseptic chlorhexidine.
While fluoride usually offers protection to your long-term oral health, excessive fluoride exposure can actually have the opposite effect. Fluorosis, a condition that causes enamel staining due to consuming too much fluoride, is typically only a problem in rural communities where the drinking water naturally contains fluoride. This most commonly occurs in areas where well water is the primary source for residents.
Preventing Tooth Discoloration
The best method for preventing tooth discoloration is to watch what you eat. It’s also important to practice quality oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing daily and scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings with your Newberg cosmetic dentist Dr. Jennifer McLeod. By far, the most easily repaired cause of tooth discoloration is poor oral hygiene. Tartar and plaque build up appears as a yellowish stain on your teeth. Removing the buildup of tartar from your teeth is a critical part of preventing tooth decay and keeping your smile healthy and bright.