Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Tooth Stains: Your Smile Knows the Difference

Intrinsic / Extrinsic Tooth Stains Woodinville, WA

Jul 21, 2018 — by Cristin Dowd, DDS
Tags: Tooth Discoloration Cosmetic Dentistry Teeth Whitening Porcelain Veneers

Before and after teeth whitening treatmentStains and discoloration can do a real number on the beauty of your smile. You might feel really self-conscious about laughing and speaking, even around people you’ve known for years. Thankfully our Woodinville, WA cosmetic dentistry practice offers plenty of treatments for minor and major tooth discoloration.

Many patients don’t realize this, but not all dental stains are the same. Some are extrinsic, while other are intrinsic. Let’s go over both types of stains, how they differ, and what dentists can do to whiten your smile.

About Extrinsic Tooth Stains

Extrinsic tooth stains are the kinds of stains that most people are familiar with. These kinds of dental stains are caused by external substances coming into contact with the tooth enamel. Over time, these substances can cause the teeth to become yellow, brown, or duller in color.

Causes of Extrinsic Tooth Stains

Some common causes of extrinsic tooth stains include:

  • Cigarettes
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Red wine
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Cola
  • Curries
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Beets

As a general rule, if a substance can stain a white shirt, it can result in tooth stains over time.

Treatments for Extrinsic Stains

To treat extrinsic tooth discoloration, the following cosmetic dentistry procedures are commonly used:

  • Teeth Whitening - Teeth whitening helps bleach the stained tooth enamel. By bleaching the stains away, your smile can look brighter, whiter, cleaner, and more appealing. Professional whitening can brighten a smile by several shades in just a single session.
  • Dental Bonding - Dental bonding uses a tooth-colored dental resin painted directly onto the tooth structure to mask an imperfection from view. Dental bonding can conceal even deep stains, helping your smile look its very best.
  • Porcelain Veneers - Porcelain veneers are thin shells of dental ceramic that are affixed to the front of the tooth. With a veneer in place, cosmetic imperfections are hidden from view, leaving your tooth looking pristine and clean.

About Intrinsic Tooth Stains

Intrinsic tooth stains are stains that originate from within a tooth. Rather than surface problems, something in the underlying layers of the tooth is causing the discoloration. This could be genetic factors or environmental factors.

Causes of Intrinsic Tooth Stains

Some causes of intrinsic tooth stains include:

  • Trauma to the teeth
  • Excessive fluoride as a child
  • Side effects from certain antibiotics
  • Medical conditions affecting wellness
  • Genetics/family history

Treatments for Intrinsic Stains

Properly diagnosing the cause of your intrinsic stains will determine the best option for treatment. These procedures tend to involve masking the flaw from view.

  • Dental Bonding - The tooth-colored resin in dental bonding treatment is great for masking stains and other major flaws from view. This is excellent for many minor intrinsic stains.
  • Porcelain Veneers - Porcelain veneers can be a great option for whitening your teeth when intrinsic stains cannot be address with bonding. The veneers are much better masks for more substantial flaws.
  • Porcelain Dental Crowns - For major intrinsic stains, porcelain dental crowns are an ideal treatment option. These caps fit over a tooth, masking flaws from view and protecting it from trauma and further damage.

Contact Signature Smiles

For more information about dental stains and discoloration, we encourage you to contact the dental care team at Signature Smiles. We look forward to your visit and discussing your treatment options in much greater detail.

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