Discolored Teeth

in Teeth

The enamel of our teeth protects the teeth from the harsh environment and constant action against the foods we eat. Over time, the natural enamel wears away and becomes so thin that the more yellow dentin behind the enamel begins to show through. Fortunately, there are cosmetic teeth whitening options available.


Many people suffer from various degrees of tooth discoloration. While most discoloration is not a serious condition and is related to natural processes, discoloration may point to other underlying problems that should be addressed. Discolored teeth may affect a person's self-image, prevent them from smiling, and lower their confidence.


There are many possible factors that contribute to discolored teeth. In some cases, discoloration can be prevented to some extent with proper care, but seldom reversed without one or more cosmetic dentistry procedures.


Causes of Discoloration

Much of the discoloration process occurs through daily wear and tear. Each day hundreds of different food and beverage items pass your teeth, many with staining agents. Some of the leading culprits include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Juice
  • Red fruits
  • Green vegetables


Several other factors may contribute in one way or another to discolored teeth.

  • Smoking is one of the leading causes of discolored and dingy looking teeth. When considering cosmetic options for whitening, giving up smoking should be a major component for a plan of action in teeth whitening.
  • Certain medications, like tetracycline can cause teeth to yellow. This occurs from the inside and no amount of brushing will remove this type of discoloration.
  • Many people are genetically indisposed to less than desirable tooth coloration.
  • Trauma can affect the color of a tooth. The entire tooth may turn grey or darken, or in the case of a cracked tooth, the enamel around the crack may collect discoloring agents more readily.
  • Metal fillings can case a dulling of an otherwise bright and winning smile.


Correction Options

Daily brushing and flossing will, to some degree, help prevent discoloration by removing staining agents as quickly as possible. The older you get though, the more difficult it is to keep up, since microscopic cracks in the enamel provide more surface area for staining agents to collect. There are several cosmetic options to whitening discolored teeth.

  • Tooth Whitening – This is a temporary whitening procedure that can be performed in the cosmetic dentist's office, or with a prescription strength take-home whitening kit.
  • Porcelain veneers – In more severe cases, porcelain veneers may be used as a cover to match a tooth to those surrounding, or to improve an entire smile. The glass surface of the porcelain is more stain-resistant that natural tooth enamel and helps prevent future discoloration.
  • Replacing metal filings – Dull and dingy metal fillings can be redone with composite or porcelain fillings that match the color of the surrounding natural teeth, for an brighter smile overall.


After the whitening process, it is important to avoid staining agents, to ensure that your smile remains bright for as long as possible. Avoid the staining agents in the foods and drinks that you consume, and definitely give up smoking.


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Sara Goldstein has 1986 articles online and 5 fans


To find out more about treating discolored teeth with cosmetic procedures in Northwest Calgary, visit cosmetic dentist, Dr. Gordon Chee's website, www.aestheticdentalstudio.ca.

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Discolored Teeth

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This article was published on 2010/09/29