Tooth stains or discolorations are of 3 basic types

Extrinsic stains

Staining from outside of the teeth due to external factors like-

  • Coffee, tea, wine, colas, colored food-stuffs,
  • Smoking and tobacco chewing
  • Plaque and tartar deposition.

Treatment for Extrinsic Stains

  • Regular professional cleanings at a dental clinic
  • Good home care which includes brushing, flossing and rinsing after meals.
  • Bleaching/ teeth whitening procedures- bleaching can be done at a dental clinic or at home.
  • In some cases, where extrinsic stains are significant or deeply set, porcelain veneers treatment can also be considered after consulting the dentist.

Intrinsic stains 

When there is discoloration of the inner surface (dentin) of the tooth due to any of the following reasons-

  • Too much exposure to fluoride during early childhood.
  • Use of tetracycline antibiotics by your mother during the second half of pregnancy or
  • Use of tetracycline antibiotics in children who are 8 years old or younger.
  • Trauma that affected a tooth at a young age which may lead to internal bleeding and hence discolor the tooth.
  • A rare genetic condition called dentinogenesis imperfect which causes gray, amber or purple discolorations.
  • Fluorosis Stains Genetic stains Staining due to trauma

Treatment for intrinsic stains

  • Since intrinsic stain occurs within the tooth, bleaching is not always successful. Dental porcelain veneers or dental composite bonding options can be considered after discussion with the dentist.
  • For children, avoid early exposure to fluorides till the enamel of the tooth is being formed and avoid use of tetracycline antibiotic at an early age.
  • Intrinsic stains that are caused by trauma and damage to a nerve or blood vessel in a tooth sometimes can be prevented. You may need to have root canal treatment to remove the inner part of the tooth (the pulp) before it has a chance to decay and darken. After which internal bleaching can be done or a ceramic crown can be placed.

Age Related Stains

This is a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors.

  • Dentin naturally yellows over time. The enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner with age, which allows the dentin to show through.
  • Foods like tea, coffee, colored foodstuffs, tobacco and smoking also can stain teeth as people get older.
  • Finally, chips or other injuries can discolor a tooth, especially when the pulp has been damaged.

Treatment for age related staining of teeth

Since intrinsic and extrinsic factors cause age related changes, a combination of professional teeth cleaning ,teeth bleaching(whitening), porcelain veneers, crowns and/ or dental composite bonding maybe considered after a check up with the dentist.