Nobody likes to look in the mirror and be greeted with discolored teeth. If you’re lucky enough to only have extrinsic stains, then there are more options available to you to remove them. However, intrinsic stains can be more difficult to remove and require special attention to do so. Before you know which method to use, you’ll need to understand why tooth enamel stains in the first place. That’s why your cosmetic dentist in Lansing is here to make it easy to distinguish the two.
Once you know what kind of stains you have, you can start discussing options with your dentist.
How Tooth Enamel Stains
The white appearance of tooth enamel can become stained quite easily if not carefully managed. What many people don’t realize about tooth enamel is that it’s not a smooth surface. Sure, it may feel smooth if you rub your finger up against it, but if you were to look at tooth enamel under a microscope, you’d see an entirely different picture.
Tooth enamel is very porous, which means it have many holes, cracks, and crevices for food to fall into. When you think of foods that can stain, imagine your teeth like you would clothing. When you look at clothing close up, it also has many spaces to absorb foods, making it very susceptible to staining.
How easy it is to remove these stains however, depends heavily on the type of stain your teeth experiences.
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Stains
Extrinsic stains refer to stains that only affect the tooth enamel, meaning it can be easily corrected when promptly addressed. Foods like coffee, tea, wine, and other darkly colored foods can set in the porous texture of tooth enamel.
Intrinsic stains however are embedded inside the tooth. This can occur either in utero or as teeth were developing during childhood. For example, if you consumed large amounts of fluoride before your teeth erupted, either from brushing too much or drinking too much fluoridated water, teeth may appear grayish. They can also become discolored as a result of tooth enamel becoming worn down from teeth grinding.
How to Prevent Future Stains
Extrinsic stains can be addressed right away while intrinsic stains require more significant restorative treatment to remove. To avoid extrinsic stains, brush your teeth immediately after consuming foods that cause discoloration. If you can’t brush, drink fluids known for staining through a straw to mitigate exposure. Chew sugarless gum to neutralize acids in the mouth and eat high-fiber foods to lower the acid levels in your mouth.
Intrinsic stains can occur as a result of fluorosis, a condition caused by overexposure to fluoride. Check if the water in your area is fluoridated before taking advantage of fluoride treatments from your dentist in Lansing and make sure you’re getting enough calcium in your diet. If your dentist tells you that you’re grinding your teeth, purchase a nightguard to prevent enamel from wearing down more. To cover or remove intrinsic stains, the best ways include:
- Porcelain veneers
- Dental bonding
- Highly powered whitening treatments (some claim to treat intrinsic stains caused by tetracycline, for example)
If you’re looking for more ways to prevent and/or treat current stains, extrinsic or intrinsic, schedule an appointment with your cosmetic dentist in Lansing today. They can offer a professional opinion on the best treatments for your case!
About the Author
Dr. John J. Hagerty has been serving the Lansing community for over 25 years. After earning his dental degree from the University of Michigan Dental School, he became a member of many professional organizations, including the Arrowhead Institutes “Elite” for Advanced Cosmetic & Rehabilitated Dentistry. To learn more about his cosmetic treatments for discolored teeth and practice, contact him at (517) 886-9696 or visit his website.