Did you know that 99% of Americans value their smile as an important social asset? Smiling is a deeply ingrained part of our culture, from first dates to job interviews. But what can you do if your smile is less than perfect?
Many people struggle with teeth discoloration. This issue can lead to social, career, and self-esteem problems. Learn what causes discolored teeth and which treatments are effective for a bright smile!
What Is Teeth Discoloration?
Some discoloration is temporary, like red wine-stained teeth. The purple cast usually disappears after brushing and flossing. But discoloration can also be permanent unless you seek professional help.
Different Discoloration Explained
Yellow teeth are the result of enamel loss. Due to age or poor oral health, the white top layer of the teeth wears down, and yellow emerges. Dentin, the internal core, can cause your teeth to look off-white or even yellow in severe cases.
If you spot brown spots on your teeth, it’s likely a sign of decay. Decay usually occurs because of poor oral health and improper brushing habits. But you can also see brown stains if you drink too much coffee or tea.
When tooth decay becomes severe, it can give your smile a greenish-black look. Pulp necrosis is another reason for black teeth and occurs when the soft tissue inside the tooth dies. It can result from injuries, untreated cavities, or invasive treatments.
Sometimes, discolored teeth have bright white spots. These spots result from a condition known as fluorosis. Using too much fluoride, whether from drinking water or fluoride products, can cause them.
Tips for Avoiding Discoloration
If your pearly whites are bright, you can take steps to avoid discoloration. These small lifestyle changes can save you lots of time and money in the future:
- Practice proper brushing technique
- Floss every day
- Choose a dentist-approved whitening toothpaste
- Limit tooth-staining food and drinks
- Use a straw when drinking tooth-staining beverages
- Quit smoking or chewing tobacco
Make sure you schedule a visit with your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. Always mention any new problems, no matter how small they seem. And don’t put off treatment!
What Causes Discolored Teeth?
Poor dental health is just one of the many causes of discolored teeth. Skipping regular brushing and flossing can lead to stains and plaque build-up. Avoiding the dentist and forgoing regular 6-month cleanings is another reason for discoloration.
But discolored teeth can occur for reasons beyond your control like:
- Some medications
- Silver sulfide-containing fillings
- Diseases, infections, and medical treatments
Age-related tooth discoloration is a common problem. Enamel wears away from a lifetime of use, and the dentin becomes more visible. Dentin also increases in size as you age, making it more obvious.
But a lot of older adults have beautiful, white teeth, right? Genetics plays a key role in the state of our tooth enamel. Some families tend to have thicker white enamel than others.
Tooth discoloration can result from environmental, inherited, and lifestyle factors. Having discolored teeth doesn’t necessarily mean you have poor oral hygiene. But if you feel self-conscious about your smile, cosmetic dentistry can help!
How Can You Fix Teeth Discoloration?
Some instances of discoloration are easy to fix. Professional dental whitening can get rid of natural stains, for example. But discoloration related to disease or oral health can be more tricky.
Whitening treatments can be done at home or at the dentist’s office. Each method has pros and cons, but it’s important to note that whitening isn’t a solution for underlying issues. If discoloration occurs because of oral disease, you need to treat it first!
At-home whitening comes in many forms, including toothpaste, strips, rinses, and blue-light therapy. Good-quality whitening toothpaste and oral rinse can help if your staining is minimal. But for moderate stains, whitening strips will deliver better results.
Many whitening agents come with a blue light. This technology is similar to laser whitening at the dentist’s office, although less effective. Another option is a dentist-provided at-home whitening kit.
Your dentist can make a custom tray for your teeth. The tray is used with a whitening gel at home over the course of several weeks. So if you’re looking for the best results, a visit to the dentist is in order.
In-office whitening options include bleaching and laser. Some treatments need to be performed several times to achieve the desired shade. Others, like laser whitening, provide results in an hour!
But what if your discoloration stems from much deeper issues? Cosmetic dentistry is the next option! There are several procedures available to change the look of your teeth, including:
- Dental bonding
- Dental crowns
- Dental veneers
Dental bonding is the least invasive procedure. The dentist will bond a white resin to the front of the teeth using a curing light. The end result is brighter teeth with an even color tone and better structure.
Dental crowns are another option, especially for those with damaged teeth. Crowns sit on top of your natural teeth to protect and cover them. The color can be fully customized to suit your teeth.
Finally, veneers are a popular option for the Hollywood smile. These custom-made porcelain tooth covers give you a perfect smile, but they also have drawbacks. Veneers are very fragile, so you’ll have to be careful not to break them on hard food.
Improving your oral health is a great way to change the color of your teeth! It’s surprising how many people don’t use the brushing technique provided by the American Dental Association. Your dentist can also give you more information on proper oral health and good habits!
We Can Help Your Smile Shine Bright
Teeth discoloration can be a stressful problem to face. Many people feel embarrassed about yellow teeth or brown spots, so they avoid finding solutions. But the one person you can (and should) talk to about discolored teeth is your dentist!
Carolina Smiles offers general and cosmetic dentistry in Greensboro for the whole family. If you’re concerned about the state of your teeth, contact us today! We can help you achieve the smile of your dreams.