How Do Intrinsic Tooth Stains Differ from Extrinsic Discoloration?

By Dr. Damon on July 20, 2018

An illustration of discolored teethUnfortunately, the teeth can yellow and darken over time due to factors like age, dental habits, and lifestyle. If you have tried to whiten your tooth enamel with no success, your issue could lie deeper, within the dentin.

When it comes to tooth discoloration, intrinsic stains differ from extrinsic stains. Whether your stains require professional teeth whitening or another cosmetic dental service to address discolored teeth, we can help.

At Texas Dental Center, our dentists offer a range of treatments that can transform your smile. Read on to learn more about intrinsic vs. extrinsic tooth stains and how they can be treated at our Richardson, TX practice.

Extrinsic Tooth Stains

When tooth stains come to mind, most people are thinking of extrinsic tooth stains. This discoloration is isolated to the outermost layer of your teeth, the enamel.

Extrinsic stains can be caused by certain foods and beverages, tobacco, and the accumulation of tartar and plaque. Extrinsic stains can be addressed with professional whitening treatments or over-the-counter whiteners.

Preventing this kind of tooth discoloration is as simple as sticking to a healthy oral hygiene routine: brush teeth your teeth twice a day, floss once every day, and go to dental checkups twice a year.

If you do consume dark beverages or foods, drink water or chew sugar-free gum to rid the staining substances from your mouth.

Intrinsic Tooth Stains

Patients might be less familiar with intrinsic stains. These internal stains indicate that your tooth’s dentin, a structure beneath the enamel, has become discolored. This type of discoloration is caused by a number of factors:

  • Fluorosis: If you were overexposed to fluoride as a child, this could have resulted in fluorosis. This results in white spots on the teeth.
  • Tetracycline antibiotics: This type of medication is known to cause intrinsic tooth stains. If your mother took this kind of antibiotic in the latter half of her pregnancy, or if you were prescribed this when you were 8 or younger, this exposure could be the source of your deep-seated tooth discoloration, which looks like browning or darkening of all of the teeth.
  • Dental fractures: When small cracks occur in the enamel, this can lead to extrinsic staining and eventually stains in the interior of your teeth. This typically results in one tooth that is darker than others.
  • Genetics: Sometimes, hereditary elements can influence whether someone is more prone to intrinsic tooth stains.
  • Tooth decay or weakened tooth enamel: These dental issues can allow stains to deeply penetrate the interior of your teeth.
  • Bleeding within teeth: If bleeding happens within the tooth or a pulp infection, a root canal could be necessary to prevent staining.

Regardless of what caused your intrinsic tooth stains, our office offers dental services to treat discolored teeth. Whitening treatments can sometimes help with intrinsic stains, but to truly address this problem, our dentists can perform cosmetic procedures like bonding or the placement of porcelain veneers.

We Have Solutions for Extrinsic and Intrinsic Stains

If you have been wishing to whiten your discolored teeth, our dentists have the expertise to perform your treatment. During a personal consultation, our dentists will assess the nature of your stains and decide on the best method of treatment to meet your individual needs.

If you are interested in a whiter, brighter smile, contact us online anytime.

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