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Extrinsic And Intrinsic Staining: Different Causes, Different Treatments

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If you have stains on your teeth, you probably aren't as concerned about which type of staining you have. You just want to know how to get rid of the stains. There are two types of dental stains: extrinsic (those that develop on the exterior) and intrinsic (those that develop internally). Both can lead to brownish, grey, or yellow tooth staining, but their causes and treatments differ. 

Extrinsic Dental Stains

Extrinsic dental stains are those that develop on the exterior of your tooth. These stains are typically caused by pigmented foods and drinks such as tea, coffee, red wine, blueberries, and cherries. Extrinsic stains can also be caused by cigarette smoking and chewing tobacco.

Extrinsic tooth stains respond well to whitening toothpastes, bleaching strips, and professional whitening treatments from your dentist. Stains can also fade over time if you avoid the aforementioned offending items. Also, even after bleaching treatments, stains can redevelop.

Another staining culprit is oral iron supplements. If you have iron deficiency anemia, your physician may have recommended that you take a liquid iron supplement. While available in tablet form, liquid iron is often absorbed better.

If you take a liquid iron or ferrous sulfate supplement, make sure you drink it through a straw and dilute it with water per the labeling instructions. If the liquid iron makes contact with your teeth despite the straw, rinse your mouth out with water as soon as possible so that stains do not have a chance to set in. 

Intrinsic Dental Stains

If your mother took the antibiotic tetracycline during her pregnancy, you may have developed intrinsic dental staining. Tetracycline can cause staining in children whose mothers took the antibiotic for a bacterial infection during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. While extrinsic, or external, dental stains respond well to conservative whitening methods, intrinsic stains do not.

Teeth can also look yellow or dull as a result of the aging process. This happens when the enamel thins, exposing dentin, which has a yellow hue. If you want to brighten the appearance of your teeth that appear discolored as a result of intrinsic staining or dentin exposure, your dentist may recommend veneers. These are resin or porcelain jackets that fit over your natural teeth to hide dental imperfections such as chips, cracks, or stains. 

If your teeth are stained, visit your dentist for further evaluation and treatment. Your treatment plan will be based on the cause of the stains and the extent of the discoloration. Regardless of the cause, however, your dentist can provide you with a number of effective options that will brighten your smile quickly and safely.

For more information, contact companies like Northwest Dental Services and Implant Center