My teeth are stained…


Your teeth may be stained for a variety of reasons. The degree of staining of your teeth may also differ from being only on the surface to being deeply embedded down to the very dental pulp. Finding the particular cause and the actual extent of the staining will help you know how you may best remove, or if this is no longer possible, to hide them. For this reason, it is always advisable to visit your dentist for a proper dental diagnosis. The results of the diagnosis will determine the appropriate treatment options for your condition.

Surface or extrinsic stains are usually caused by habitual smoking and by excessive consumption of foods and beverages which contain chromogens, tannins and other colouring agents such as red wine, tea, coffee, colas, berries, beets, coloured candies and sweets, curry and other dishes cooked in or served with deeply coloured sauces. Another possible cause of surface staining is poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush regularly, the accumulated bacteria in the plaque will eventually show as orange and/or green stains on the teeth. The enamel surrounding the teeth is porous and can readily absorb stains from the substances it comes in frequent contact with. Fortunately, in most cases of surface staining, routine professional dental cleaning treatment at the hygienist will suffice to restore the normal colour of the teeth. For particularly stubborn stains, the hygienist may administer an airflow stain removal treatment which involves spraying of compressed air, water and fine baking soda particles at high pressure in cleaning the teeth.

Since enamel is porous, it may happen that the stains on the surface will eventually seep into the dentin and deeper parts of the teeth, especially if there is infrequent or no regular prophylaxis. In cases like this, no amount of cleaning will remove the stains. Often, the dentist will recommend in-office bleaching. Here, bleaching agents, usually a peroxide-based gel, will be painted on each tooth. After 15 minutes, laser or halogen curing light will be used to activate the peroxide. The teeth will then be coated again with the peroxide solution, following which it will again be cured with light. The process will be repeated until the desired shade of white is reached. Finally, fluoride will be applied on the teeth for added protection. The entire in-office procedure will usually take an hour to complete. Another option is dentist-supervised at-home bleaching. Here the dentist will take an impression of your teeth which he will use as mold for making your customised mouth trays. Once ready, you can take home the mouth trays along with the whitening gel and your dentist’s detailed written instructions. At home, you will put a small amount of gel into the tray which you will wear for about two hours a day. At-home treatment can take up to four to six weeks of daily use of the mouth trays before you get the desired shade of white.

It may also be that teeth will get stained or discoloured because of tooth decay or tooth trauma following an injury. The decayed or injured teeth may appear greyish to black. In this instance, restorative dentistry is needed. Use of tetracycline during the tooth development stage can eventually make the teeth greyish blue or brownish yellow. Long-term ingestion of large quantities of fluoride can make the teeth look spotted. In all these cases, cosmetic dentistry, like application of porcelain veneer, may be the only option for keeping the stains away from sight.

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