Stained teeth – by Claire Jennings

Posted on 27th March 2022

Many patients often ask why their teeth become stained in localised or generalised areas. It can cause a lot of distress for patients and reduces their self-confidence in everyday life.

There are two different types of staining that can occur; intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic staining is the type of staining that appears on the tooth surface from sources outside of the mouth. They can be caused from the usual things in our diet. Coffee and tea (including green tea) are 2 of the main things that can cause extrinsic stains on the tooth surface. They contain tannins which are responsible for their potent staining properties. They can stain the natural tooth surface but also stain composite fillings and prosthetics that may have been added to the dentition. Furthermore, foods such as berries and curries can also stain the teeth on the surface alongside drinks such as red wine.

We cannot stop everything due to the potential to stain the teeth, however the frequency in consumption will often determine the rate and intensity at which teeth will stain. Smoking is also one of the main habits that can leave staining on the teeth – sometimes severely and generalised across most of the tooth surfaces. Quitting smoking will obviously have a far greater effect on one’s systemic health as well at the staining on their teeth!

Finally, another cause of stains similar to this, is Corsodyl mouthwash (and other chlorhexidine containing mouth rinses); although very helpful in many instances, if used persistently for a longer period of time (longer than 2 consecutive weeks) it can build up staining on the teeth causing the appearance similar to smoking, tea and coffee. Your dentist’s advice on using chlorhexidine mouthwash should be taken.

At Infinity dental Clinic, our dental hygiene team offers an air-polishing system that can be extremely effective at removing this type of extrinsic staining. It uses a combination of powder and water to gently disrupt the stains alongside plaque and bacteria in the mouth, leaving the tooth surface feeling smooth and shiny. This can be done as part of your routine hygiene appointment to achieve the best results possible.

Intrinsic stains are more difficult to remove in this way and may require different types of treatment to improve the look of the teeth cosmetically. This is where the staining is part of the more integral tooth structure following issues during development such as fluorosis or tetracycline staining or through issues regarding the nerve of the tooth that can leave a discoloured appearance. It is always advised to speak with the dentist or hygienist if you have any worries regarding tooth discolouration or staining and they can advise treatments best specified to your individual case and need.

Thank you for reading,

Claire Jennings

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