Understanding Dental Discoloration and How to Correct It

If your teeth have become increasingly discolored, you may not know why. Additionally, you may be unfamiliar with the options available to whiten your teeth. Here is a bit of information about the dental discoloration and the dental applications available to correct it.

Why Do the Teeth Darken?

Your teeth may become discolored for a number of reasons. Here are some of them:

  • Pigments from food and beverages: As you eat and drink, deeply hued colorants in the items that you ingest called chromogens may become attached to your teeth. As these pigments build up, your teeth become increasingly darker.
  • Medicinal side effects: The teeth may become discolored as a side effect of certain medications, such as tetracycline. Additionally, chemotherapy drugs may also cause dental discoloration.
  • Tobacco stains: Tobacco contains nicotine and tar. Nicotine takes on a yellow coloring when exposed to oxygen. Additionally, tar, which is naturally deep in color, can accumulate on the tooth enamel.
  • A blow to the mouth: A traumatic blow to a tooth can cause it to darken.
  • Aging: As a person becomes older, the enamel wears away. The thinning of this outer white layer of tooth material can expose more of the underlying dentin, which has a yellow hue.

What Can Be Done to Whiten the Teeth?

The teeth can be whitened chemically, or a cosmetic application that covers the discoloration may be applied. Chemical whiteners use peroxide-based products to help remove food and tobacco stains. Cosmetic applications that conceal the discoloration may be used for all types of discoloration, including those that are considered permanent.

Chemical whitening applications include:

  • Professional bleaching: After coating the gums with a protective gel or covering them with a shield, the dentist applies a bleaching product to the teeth. They may also expose the coated teeth to a bright light to improve the bleaching effects. 
  • Over-the-counter bleaches: Whitening kits may be purchased for at-home use. The kits include instructions, a bleaching product, and an applicator. The instructions should detail the application frequency and duration. 

Cosmetic applications that cover the discoloration include:

  • Dental veneers: The veneers are quite thin and shaped like teeth. They are bonded to the front surface of the teeth, concealing the discoloration. 
  • Dental crowns: Dental crowns are hollow, tooth-shaped devices. A crown covers the natural crown of a tooth, encircling it fully. 

For more information about teeth whitening, schedule a consultation with a clinic such as Pinon Hills Dental.