Dental Darkening: What Causes Stained Teeth?

May 6, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_carmen @ 7:46 pm
Before/after shot of teeth that were stained and then whitened

Did you know that an estimated 48% of adults have reported that a person’s smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone new? That means almost half of the people you come across believe that clean, healthy teeth are more attractive than flawed or tinted ones. If your grin is more brown or yellow, it’s natural to feel self-conscious and want to make a change.

Before you can decide on an appropriate cosmetic dental service, however, you must first understand what caused the discoloration to know the best way to resolve it. Extrinsic stains exist on the enamel of your pearly whites and can usually be bleached away. However, intrinsic stains that originate below the surface won’t be impacted by topical treatment.

If you’re frustrated by tarnished teeth, keep reading to learn 3 potential causes and what you can do to enhance your appearance!

Cause #1: Dark Foods

When people want to lighten their smiles, it’s usually because they’ve consumed years’ worth of food and drinks that have left them looking worse for wear. Coffee, tea, and wine all contain tannins that are known to cause discoloration. Other common culprits include blackberries, blueberries, tomatoes, and other highly pigmented ingredients.

It’s understandable to be tempted to try a whitening kit from your local store to improve your grin. However, be aware that these products often contain harsh bleaches that can damage your enamel and lead to sensitivity. Moreover, the results may not meet your expectations. It’s always best to consult a professional for safe and effective teeth whitening.

Fortunately, your dentist can provide a take-home kit containing professional-grade gels that minimize discomfort. Plus, they’ll include trays customized to fit your mouth specifically for an optimal outcome.

Cause #2:  Smoking

Smoking is another frequent offender known to taint your pearly whites. Tobacco products contain nicotine, tar, and other toxic ingredients that seep into enamel through microscopic pores when inhaled. Although nicotine is colorless initially, it turns yellow when it reacts with oxygen and tints teeth.

To make matters worse, cigarettes are also the leading cause of oral cancer. If you want to make a positive change that improves your appearance and overall well-being, quitting is the wisest choice. Your dentist can potentially brighten your grin with whitening services, but if the stains are too deep, you might require a solution that covers them up, like veneers. These thin, porcelain shells are bonded to the front of your teeth to hide problem areas.

Cause #3: Medications

Certain prescription medications like antibiotics, antihistamines, and drugs for high blood pressure can also leave your teeth looking dingy. If you take them as a child, they can impact the way your enamel forms, and you could end up with white splotches or blemishes. Certain drugs are also known to impact the state of your smile when you’re already full-grown.

Generally, bleaching isn’t effective because these stains exist beneath the outermost surface. You can effectively mask these aesthetic flaws with another solution, like dental bonding. For this method, your dentist applies color-matched resin to your teeth and molds it into the ideal shape. Then, they harden it in place with a special curing light to cover up imperfections.

If you’re still not sure the best way to brighten your grin, contact your dentist! They’ll consult with you and provide professional recommendations based on your current dental condition.

About the Author

Dr. Bobby J. Carmen has more than 20 years of experience helping patients of all ages improve their oral health and enhance their appearance. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry and then completed a General Practice Residency at the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes in Illinois. He has continued to develop his skills with ongoing training with prestigious institutions like the Dawson Academy, Scottsdale Center for Dentistry, and the Misch International Implant Institute. He uses state-of-the-art equipment to provide accurate, long-lasting treatments, including cosmetic services. If you’re frustrated by stains and want a consultation, you can request an appointment on the website or by calling (405) 364-2200.

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