“Most of us (99%) consider our smile our most important social feature, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry”1.
Therefore, dull smiles are a definite indicator to reconsider our dental care routines. Our teeth’s luminosity can be negatively impacted by teeth stains. Teeth stains can be easily prevented and can be cleaned, depending on their type.
Types of Teeth Stains
Essentially, there are three common types of teeth stains, extrinsic teeth stains, intrinsic teeth stains, and age-related teeth stains2.
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- Extrinsic teeth stains are the most common type. The outer layer of the tooth, also known as the enamel, can be stained by dietary and lifestyle choices, such as smoking and drinking coffee or soda. The extrinsic teeth stains can show a yellowish discoloration of the tooth.
- Intrinsic teeth stains are harder to remove than extrinsic teeth stains because they are ingrained in the tooth structure. Intrinsic teeth stains have yellow tints or a darkened dentin caused by certain medications or simply through injuries to the tooth and/or tooth decay.
- Age-related teeth stains are visible when the dentin underneath enamel is shown through. The discoloration of the tooth is, thus, easily impacted by extrinsic and intrinsic factors.
Causes of Teeth Stains
The causes of teeth staining are many1,2,3. It is important that you keep a close eye on the causes listed below:
Dietary & Lifestyle Choices
You definitely are what you eat and drink. Some types of food and drinks can stain your teeth because they are, more or less, stained themselves. These include drinking soda, coffee, or even red wine and/or eating some starchy food like potatoes and pasta. Also, smoking or chewing tobacco can cause staining.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Not sticking to a proper dental hygiene contributes to staining teeth. Skipping certain aspects to your dental routine causes plaque and food stains to build up, which, in turn, cause staining to your teeth. Using Listerine® Mouthwash daily is a great addition to improve your dental hygiene. Do not forget professional dental cleanings.
Some diseases prevent the normal development of the tooth enamel and the dentin, leading to tooth coloration. Moreover, head and neck radiation as well as chemotherapy might discolor the teeth.
Trauma & Injury
Trauma or injury to the tooth can create teeth staining, as well. If a tooth has been damaged due to a certain injury, then it is most likely that the enamel, the outer part of the tooth, has been also damaged or its formation can be disrupted, especially in children. Also, it is possible that the injury/trauma might decrease the blood flow to the tooth or the nerve.
Despite their prevalence, teeth staining can be reversed. Some stains might be harder to remove than others though. Below is a list of some treatments used to remove stains.
- Reevaluating your dental care routine, using special toothbrushes, floss techniques, and products
- Avoiding food and drinks that stain
- Using whitening agents present in dental products
- Consulting the dentist for an in-office treatment
- Using veneers on your teeth
In sum, why teeth stains are there and how to remove them depends on your dental history and which treatment can best serve its purpose. It is always best to consult with your dental care specialist, inform them about your history as well as your lifestyle and habits, and abide by their recommendation to identify the types, causes, and how to remove those stains. Remember, you are not fully dressed without a bright and luminous smile!