Extrinsic Stains vs. Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration: What Is the Difference?

Jan 22, 2015 @ 10:34 AM — by Lauren Shanard

A woman in a scarf smilingAt Contemporary Dental Arts here in Williston, we take great care when crafting a dental treatment. It's important to us that we consider every treatment option out there to enhance the appearance and health of a smile, from teeth whitening to bleach stains and discolorations to more advanced smile makeovers.

Stains are a particularly interesting topic when it comes to cosmetic dentistry since not all stains are the same. Let's consider the different kinds of tooth discoloration and the treatment options available.

About Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Extrinsic tooth discoloration is a kind of dental stain that forms on the surface layer of the tooth on the enamel. It is the kind of tooth discoloration that most people are familiar with and certainly the kind of tooth discoloration that people think of when they hear the phrase.

Common Causes of Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Some of the most common causes of extrinsic tooth discoloration include the following:

  • Tobacco products
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Soft drinks
  • Beets
  • Curries
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries

Treatments for Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

In many cases, the most ideal treatment for extrinsic tooth discoloration is teeth whitening treatment. This involves the use of a bleaching agent on the surface of the smile, which whitens and brightens the stains from view. If the discoloration is particularly deep, the ideal options to consider are porcelain dental veneers and tooth bonding, which helps mask stains from view.

About Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Intrinsic tooth discolorations are dental stains that emerge from within the tooth itself. These kinds of tooth stains are not thought of as much as extrinsic dental stains, though intrinsic discoloration is a major issue to consider with regard to smile aesthetics.

Common Causes of Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Some of the most common causes of intrinsic tooth discoloration include:

  • Tooth injuries or infections
  • Congenital tooth discoloration
  • Use of antibiotics at an early age
  • Overexposure to fluoride
  • Side effect of certain medical problems

Treatments for Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

The most common treatments for intrinsic tooth discoloration tend to be ones that conceal the tooth itself rather than just bleach it since traditional teeth whitening can only affect the surface of a tooth. Many times porcelain veneers and dental bonding are the first resort for intrinsic stains. More serious intrinsic tooth stains may be dealt with using dental crowns if necessary.

What is age-related tooth discoloration?

Age-related tooth discoloration is a combination of intrinsic tooth discoloration and extrinsic tooth discoloration. This is the result of the natural aging process, including basic wear and tear, years of exposure to things that cause stains, and so forth.

Treatments for Age-Related Tooth Discoloration

The most common treatments for age-related tooth discoloration will typically involve a combination of teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, dental bonding, and more advanced restorations. Since each patient's tooth discoloration issues will vary, it's important for the dentist to customize the treatment to the patient's needs.

Contact Our Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry Practice

For more information about tooth discoloration and your many different options for treatment, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. At Contemporary Dental Arts, we will work with you to make sure your smile is as healthy and beautiful as possible.

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