What Are the Causes of Tooth Discolouration?

Many people suffer from the embarrassment of mild or severe tooth discolouration for an array of different reasons. In some cases, tooth discolouration is natural or hereditary, while in other cases, it’s caused by external factors such as certain lifestyle and dietary choices or lack of proper oral hygiene. Regardless of the cause, tooth discolouration is highly treatable and preventable, especially under the care and treatment of your local dental office.

Causes of Tooth Discolouration

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What Is Tooth Discolouration?

There are a few different forms of tooth discolouration that stem from varying sources. Generally speaking, however, tooth discolouration occurs when the teeth are stained by internal or external causes. As mentioned, some of these causes are naturally occurring phenomena, while others are triggered by certain dietary and lifestyle habits. Tooth discolouration can happen as a result of natural changes to the teeth over time or because of certain foods and beverages that stain the enamel (the outer surface layer) of the teeth.

Types of Tooth Discolouration

Considering each tooth is a complex structure, it should be no surprise that there are three completely different types of tooth discolouration all of which are easily diagnosable and reversible if you seek out teeth whitening in your area.

  • Intrinsic Tooth Discolouration: Each tooth contains calcified tissue directly beneath its enamel called dentin which is naturally yellow. As the enamel wears down over time due to varying external factors, the dentin becomes increasingly exposed and this results in a darker yellowish tint to the tooth. Dentin can also become stained, giving it a darker yellowish or brownish hue. This can be caused by dental fluorosis (childhood overexposure to or overconsumption of fluoride). Also, if women ingest tetracycline antibiotics during the last six months of their pregnancy—when the bones of the fetus are still developing—then this can cause the baby to have stained teeth. Tetracycline antibiotics are also linked to tooth discolouration when ingested by children under the age of eight because many of them still haven’t fully developed their adult teeth.
  • Extrinsic Tooth Discolouration: This is caused by external factors such as the foods and beverages you consume, which either wear down or tinge the enamel of the teeth. Coffee, tea, most berries, and highly acidic foods and beverages can have a negative effect on the enamel of your teeth. Even certain bad habits such as smoking or using cannabis can discolour your teeth.
  • Age-Related Discolouration: This is a natural phenomenon that progresses gradually. As you get older, the enamel on your teeth wears thin both naturally and as a direct result of the foods and drinks you consume. On top of that, the colour of the dentin beneath the surface naturally darkens over time, which inevitably gives your teeth a yellower tinge. Any dental injuries you may have suffered throughout your lifetime can exacerbate the discolouration process.

Common Causes of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Tooth Discolouration

In order to learn about tooth discolouration treatment and prevention methods, it’s worth further exploring some of the factors that contribute to intrinsic and extrinsic discolouration.

Intrinsic Tooth Discolouration Causes

  • Poor Oral Hygiene: It should go without saying that poor or underdeveloped oral hygiene habits can lead to extreme tooth decay and even tooth loss. Discolouration is just one of many symptoms of decay. To avoid this problem, all you have to do is brush your teeth twice daily, try to rinse out your mouth after every meal and drink, and floss nightly before going to bed. Dentists also recommend getting a check-up and cleaning at least once every six months. Of course, the frequency with which you get your teeth cleaned is based on individual requirements. In some cases, patients might have to go to the dentist more often than that.
  • Certain Medications: Sometimes, tooth discolouration is unavoidable as it can be a side effect of certain types of medications we’re required to take for various conditions. The following medications and oral products have been linked to tooth discolouration: tetracycline if taken by pregnant women during their second or third trimester and young children under eight; mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine chloride; mouthwashes that contain cetylpyridinium chloride; antihistamines that contain dyes such as “Benadryl”; antihypertensive medications; and antipsychotic drugs. Hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin can also lead to severe tooth discolouration and decay.
  • Dental Fluorosis: Dental fluorosis occurs when young children consume far too much fluoride. In some cases, this can occur in utero if the expecting mother drinks water that contains high levels of fluoride. Copious amounts of fluoride can cause white streaks to form on the surface of the teeth and may eventually lead to damage to the thin layer of enamel.
  • Suffering Dental Traumas: If you’re wondering what constitutes a dental trauma, it can be anything from chipping a tooth to injuring the periodontal apparatus to injuring the supporting bones beneath the teeth. This usually causes some form of internal or external bleeding, which can stain the teeth.

Extrinsic Tooth Discolouration Causes

  • Foods and Beverages: Certain foods and beverages can damage your teeth and cause discolouration. Most dentists recommend consuming these in moderation and brushing your teeth or rinsing out your mouth after every meal. This ensures that food doesn’t get stuck in your teeth.
  • Smoking and Cannabis use: Smoking isn’t just terrible for your respiratory health, it can stain the teeth and decalcify your tooth enamel, allowing toxins to penetrate the surface of your teeth.
  • Dental Fillings: It might be hard to believe that a dental treatment can actually damage your teeth in any way, but such is the case with amalgam dental fillings, also known as silver fillings. These fillings are usually constructed using certain metal compounds that eventually break down over time and are absorbed by your teeth, which can result in a slightly black or grey shade.
  • Genetics: Technically, your genetic predisposition can result in either extrinsic or intrinsic tooth discolouration. Due to unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances, sometimes babies are born with thicker or thinner enamel than others. The thinner the enamel is, the more visible the yellow dentin becomes.

Tooth Discolouration Treatment in Toronto and Etobicoke

If you’re looking for a teeth whitening dentist in Toronto, then Princeview Dental Group can help you. We can provide different kinds of teeth whitening treatments including veneers and in-office whitening, and also provide recommendations for at-home treatment options. For more information on how we can help you achieve a whiter and brighter smile, please call us at (416) 231-4562.

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