A brilliantly white smile is one of life’s great joys–it lights up your face and the whole room around you. And while you likely do your best to take care of your teeth with a regular regime of brushing and flossing combined with visits to the dentist for an exam and cleaning, the fact is that stains and discolorations of the teeth can happen. But what can you do about it? Let’s talk about teeth stain prevention, and what it might mean for you.
First off, what causes teeth stains? Discolorations of the enamel can happen for a variety of reasons, but in general stains on teeth fall into three categories:
- Extrinsic teeth stains are stains on the surface of the teeth. These occur when particles of the staining material become caught in the layer of protein on the surface of the enamel. Extrinsic stains are often caused by tobacco or alcohol use or coffee/cola consumption, and they generally are pretty easy to clear up with a whitening toothpaste or routine dental cleaning.
- Intrinsic teeth stains happen below the surface of the tooth. Particles of the staining material work their way through the initial layers of the tooth and into the enamel itself. As with extrinsic stains, these can be caused by a variety of things–excess fluoride ingestion is a common culprit. As you might expect intrinsic teeth stains are a bit harder to remove, often requiring bleaching treatment from a professional.
- Finally, age-related teeth stains are an inevitable by-product of growing older; most seniors get them to some degree. As we age, the dentin in our teeth naturally yellows and the enamel naturally thins, allowing the dentin to show through. Combined with the wrong dietary or tobacco habits, they can lead to discoloration and staining.
So now that we know what commonly causes staining, what can we do about it? The good news is that with a little bit of work, the most common causes of staining can be avoided. Eliminating tobacco use is always a good step for your health, and it also removes one potential cause of teeth staining. Likewise limiting coffee, soda, and red wine consumption can cut down on stains and discolorations of the teeth while providing some other additional health benefits. And as always with oral health, a proper diet combined with regular brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist goes a long way towards preventing most teeth and gum problems, including teeth staining.
But sometimes the worst does occur and despite your best efforts teeth staining may happen. In that case, what do you do? Talking to your dentist is a good first step–they know you and your teeth and can give you advice tailored to your situation. They may suggest a cleaning, switching to whitening toothpaste, or a cosmetic whitening treatment; it all depends on the nature and extent of the staining. The good news is that many stains can be removed with the right treatment.
At Plage Dentistry, we take the time to get to know each patient and give them the personal treatment they deserve. Whatever your needs, from a regular exam to our teeth whitening services, we’ll work with you to make your smile the best it can possibly be. Get in touch today and make an appointment so we can discuss your options.