People today seem to be obsessed with white teeth and while the appearance of your teeth does say something about your overall health and wellbeing and self-care habits, there is a lot that goes into determining what is a healthy shade for your teeth. There are many things that can lead to stained and discolored teeth. “When assessing the physical attractiveness of potential partners, people often comment on the color or shape of teeth. The color and shape of our teeth is not, of course, arbitrary; they can reveal important information about our health and genetic quality…As a consequence, people place considerable importance on the appearance of their teeth; in the US alone, about $1 billion per year is spent on purely cosmetic dental procedures. A 2012 study investigated the manner in which teeth color and spacing influence ratings of physical attractiveness. It concluded that deviations from normal spacing and/or darker, yellower teeth are perceived as unattractive, particularly when judging women” (QZ.com). Here at Forest City Dental, we want to help you understand how to keep your teeth white and healthy and how to avoid the most common causes of stained and discolored teeth!
Types of Tooth Discoloration
Tooth discoloration can occur as a result of surface stains, due to actual changes in your tooth material, or because of a combination of both factors. Dental professionals have identified three main categories of tooth discoloration:
- Extrinsic Teeth Stains: An extrinsic tooth stain refers to discoloration that is limited to the surface of the tooth. It occurs as a result of particles adhering to the surface of your teeth where they stay for prolonged periods and discolor the area where they have attached. This type of tooth stain is best resolved by good dental hygiene and routine brushing and flossing.
- Intrinsic Teeth Stains: An intrinsic tooth stain is a discoloration that has penetrated to the surface of your teeth and has discolored the inner tooth material. An intrinsic tooth stain is trickier to remove, but it can be done. Whitening products can help but for severely stained teeth, professional whitening at the dentists’ office or prosthetics like veneers can help.
- Age-Related Teeth Stains: Age-related teeth discoloration occurs as a result of both extrinsic and intrinsic staining. As our teeth age they also naturally darken as the white enamel is worn away and the addition of both staining processes means older individuals often deal with yellow, stained, and discolored teeth later on in life.
Causes of Stained and Discolored Teeth
“Certain foods and drinks can cause teeth stains, and as we’ve talked about, tooth discoloration is also a product of several biological factors, including the transparency of your tooth enamel. There are many causes of discolored teeth—some of which could have possibly been prevented, and many of which are beyond your control” (Crest). Here at Forest City Dental, we want to assist all of our patients with their dental care. To this end, we have developed a list to help you determine the cause of stained and discolored teeth, and in many cases, help you take steps to prevent further discoloring of your teeth. Here are the common ways you run the risk of developing stained and discolored teeth day in and day out:
- Food & Drink: Coffee, tea, red wine, soda, and even some fruit and vegetable juices can stain your teeth, especially when they are consumed on a regular basis.
- Tobacco: Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco damages your enamel and will discolor your teeth and make them more susceptible to staining from other sources.
- Oral Care: If you are not taking care of your teeth with proper brushing and flossing and dental care practices then you will end up with stained and discolored teeth or worse.
- Trauma or Disease: Any trauma, illness, or disease can damage your teeth and leave them discolored, due to the initial damage that the teeth and gums sustained.
- Medical Treatments: Sometimes medical treatments and medications can discolor your teeth- blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, antihistamines and more for example.
In order to safely remove or lessen a stain, you first need to know what type of stain you are dealing with. Some staining materials are made of particles that will remain on the tooth enamel, while others work through the tooth enamel to attack deeper layers. Some stained and discolored teeth can be improved while others cannot be directly corrected and will need additional treatment and steps to restore a healthy white smile. If basic whitening steps are not effective, you can talk to your dental care team about whether implants or veneers are an option for you and your unique situation.
Are My Teeth White Enough?
Tooth color is important to many people today but it is highly subjective, and it can be hard to tell when you have achieved a ‘white enough’ smile. “A 2004 study in the Journal of Dentistry showed that even professionals disagree on tooth color when evaluating the same teeth, and a single professional can rate the whiteness of the same tooth differently on different occasions. One method of evaluating the effectiveness of whitening products involves taking high-resolution digital images of teeth and assigning numerical values to describe the whitening effects three ways: a decrease in yellowness, decrease in redness, and an increase in lightness” (Crest). Ultimately it comes to your personal preference and what you are physically able to do as far as whitening your teeth. It is important to work with your dental team to develop a plan to get your teeth as healthy as possible and then keep them that way so you can enjoy a healthy bright smile!
Contact Forest City Dental Today
If you have been struggling with stained and discolored teeth or have questions about how to protect your teeth and reduce your chances of getting discolored teeth down the road, give us a call. We are here to help and would love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your unique and individual dental care needs. Call now and schedule a consultation appointment and see how bright your smile can really be!