What Causes Tooth Staining and Discoloration?

on July 28, 2020

Everyone wants to be able to flash a healthy, white smile. However, if you look in the mirror only to see stained or discolored teeth, you may be tempted to hide your smile. That can have a negative effect on every aspect of your life, from social to professional. There are many reasons why your teeth may be darker than you’d like – some that are within your control, while others are not.

Stains Caused by Lifestyle Habits

Eating certain foods like pasta, potatoes, and other starchy foods can create conditions that cause staining. Additionally, drinking colas, coffee, tea, and wines are also notorious for turning our pearly whites various shades of beige and gray. Smoking and chewing tobacco also stains our teeth.

Dental Health Issues

Stains can easily build up if we forget to brush and floss our teeth regularly. Skipping regular, professional dental cleanings also allows stains to form and darken. Some diseases can prevent the normal development of dentin (the core beneath the enamel), as well as the tooth enamel itself (the white exterior), leading to tooth discoloration.

Medical treatments and certain medications can also be problematic. Neck and head radiation, chemotherapy, and certain drugs like antihistamines, antihypertensive medications, and antipsychotic drugs cause tooth discoloration. It is also well documented that certain antibiotics can interfere with enamel formation in children under the age of eight. Additionally, when a pregnant mother suffers from certain infections, it can affect their baby’s enamel development and cause discoloration of the baby’s teeth.

Dental fillings may also be the cause of discolored teeth. Silver sulfide materials, which are present in some amalgam restorations, can stain and lend a grayish cast to the restored teeth, as well as the surrounding gum tissue.

Culprits Beyond Our Control

As we age, the outer layer of enamel wears thinner, exposing the yellow dentin (which also happens to grow thicker as we get older). This reduced translucency makes teeth appear darker. Environmental factors including being exposed to too much fluoride while our teeth are forming, and genetics that lead to thicker enamel running in some families, can affect how white our teeth remain as we get older.

Children younger than eight can suffer disruption to enamel formation if they experience trauma to their mouth, like being hit in the face during sports participation. Trauma caused by a sports injury or other impact can also cause adult teeth to become discolored due to reduced blood flow or nerve death.

Cosmetic Dentistry in Evanston

We all care about having healthy, white teeth. In fact, according to the American Academy for Cosmetic Dentistry, 99% of us consider our smile to be our most important social feature. If you are looking to improve the whiteness and brightness of your smile, reach out to the experts at Stephens Dentistry, where we specialize in cosmetic dentistry in Evanston.

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