Oct 21

Treating Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

by Bruno Lemay, D.M.D.

A side-by-side showing stained teeth next to bright white teethTooth discoloration is one of the biggest cosmetic dental concerns. Professional teeth whitening treatments can help patients achieve a vibrant white smile and reverse years of discoloration. Although teeth whitening is beneficial for many who suffer from tooth discoloration, it's not always the best solution. This is because there are two different types of tooth discoloration, extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration, both of which require different treatments. When deciding which treatment is right for you, it's important to understand the difference between extrinsic versus intrinsic tooth discoloration.

Servicing patients in Rancho Mirage, CA, Palm Springs, CA, and Palm Desert, CA, dentists Bruno Lemay and Greg Ardary provide the latest treatments to create a bright white smile and improve your oral health. Contact our offices to find out which treatments are right for you.

Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Extrinsic tooth discoloration is the most common type of dental staining. Extrinsic discoloration can be thought of as a surface stain because discoloration is isolated to the enamel, or the outer layer of the teeth. Extrinsic stains are caused by foods and drinks as well as smoking. Some foods and drinks are more likely to cause extrinsic stains, such as coffee, tomato sauce, and red wine.

Extrinsic stains are recognized by an overall yellowing, or discoloration, of the teeth. The teeth may even look brownish yellow, especially amongst smokers or tobacco users. In some cases, discoloration is darker along the gum line.

Treating Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Extrinsic stains are easier to treat than intrinsic stains. For most people with extrinsic stains, professional whitening treatment is sufficient to lift years of discoloration. Teeth whitening treatment may be repeated to achieve the desired level of whitening, especially when extrinsic stains are dark. Although most extrinsic stains respond well to whitening treatment, some may be too dark to obtain the desired results with whitening treatment. In such circumstances, porcelain veneers or dental bonding may be used to mask discoloration and restore the smile's vibrancy.

Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Intrinsic tooth discoloration is a type of internal dental stain affecting the inner dentin layer of the teeth. Intrinsic stains have many possible causes including enamel erosion or poor oral hygiene. Intrinsic stains may also be caused by trauma to a tooth, overexposure to fluoride in early childhood, or the use of tetracycline antibiotics as a child or by a mother during pregnancy.

Intrinsic stains look different than extrinsic stains; rather than causing an overall discoloration, intrinsic stains appear as localized discoloration. Intrinsic stains may look like white spots on the teeth or just one tooth may be affected.

Treating Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Intrinsic stains are less common than extrinsic stains and more difficult to treat. Teeth whitening is not recommended for intrinsic stains because the whitening solution cannot reach deep enough to lift intrinsic discoloration. Fortunately, treatments are available to restore the appearance of teeth with intrinsic discoloration. Dental bonding, porcelain veneers, or porcelain crowns can be used to hide discoloration and other dental flaws to reveal a beautiful, white smile.

Discover Your Treatment Options

You can have a beautiful, white smile no matter what type of tooth discoloration you have. To find out which treatments are right for your needs, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with our team at Desert Dental Alternatives.

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