Discoloured teeth

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THERE are a number of reasons that teeth stain. Foods, beverages, and medications may discolour teeth. Smoking or forgetting to brush and floss on a regular basis may also lead to staining. In other cases, discolouration may be the result of genetics or disease. Microcracks caused by chewing ice or other hard objects can trap stains and are difficult – or more often impossible – to clean. Cut back on coffee to reduce stains. Even with frequent cleanings, stains due to drinking large amounts of coffee may rapidly return.

If your teeth are stained or discoloured, chances are you have gone to some lengths to achieve a whiter, brighter smile. Perhaps you have experimented with the variety of toothpaste on the market today, purchased some of the home bleaching kits sold in drugstores and supermarkets, or, in an attempt to draw attention away from your teeth or accentuated your hairstyle or clothing. But unfortunately, many of these efforts ultimately fall short. Today, however, there is no need to suffer from social embarrassment or psychological trauma because of stained or discoloured teeth. Suitable cosmetic dental treatment can provide both predictable and positive long-term results.

What stains teeth? Stained teeth can be caused by drinking cola, coffee, and tea; consuming other stain producing foods such as betel nuts, blueberries, curry, greens coloured drinks or red wine. Smoking is bad in every way. The nicotine deposits on the enamel are a very common source of discoloured teeth. These stains are called surface stains.

Stop staining your teeth by
Limiting the amount of coffee and tea in your daily diet
Avoid smoking
Make regular visits to your dentist for professional cleanings
Brush and floss regularly and properly. Some kinds of toothpaste have compounds that can help remove minor stains for a whitening effect.

Plaque can build up on teeth can cause stains, referred to as soft deposits. This is usually the result of inadequate oral hygiene (brushing and flossing). Surface stains occur primarily between teeth and on surfaces of crooked teeth. They are typically dark brown and are caused by strong discolouring agents such as coffee, tea, and tobacco. It can usually be managed with daily oral hygiene combined with regular visits to your dentist for professional cleanings. It may be trapped in microcracks and require a more aggressive treatment than professional cleanings alone. Although bleaching can cause the microcracks, teeth become even whiter than or a different colour than the rest of the teeth. Mouthwashes which contain chlorhexidine can contribute to staining.

Soft deposits are caused by plaque – a sticky film that builds up on teeth over time – or tartar (calculus) – a cement-like substance that forms when plaque is not removed. They are often bacterial in origin and may be the by-product of ineffective oral hygiene. It can appear as dark or whitish areas around the gum line, most often on the lower front teeth and typically disappear after thorough dental scaling and polishing. It is useful to use a plaque disclosing agent to know if you are brushing and flossing effectively.

Intrinsic stains are part of the tooth structure itself. This may be a result of genetics, disease, or the use of medications such as tetracycline. Intrinsic stains include white spots on the enamel surface and bands of brownish grey across the teeth. It may be caused by faulty hardening of the tooth before birth or the interruption of normal enamel formation by medications or disease. It often appears in people who were treated with the antibiotic tetracycline before the age of eight years or whose mothers took the drug while pregnant. It can also result from the use of the antibiotic minocycline or may be caused by advanced decay or by old or defective silver fillings (brown or grey stains). Treatment for intrinsic stains include laminates, veneers and bonding.