Picture this. You wake up one Saturday, and, after a cup of coffee, you look in the mirror to see a bit of discoloration in your teeth. You don’t understand why, because you’ve been brushing twice a day for your entire life and you have been seeing the dentist regularly. Well, sometimes, it’s just not enough to keep your teeth healthy; you may need to take a look at the underlying problem which causes your teeth to be not-so-white. There are three different types of teeth discoloration.

  1. Extrinsic discoloration occurs when the enamel, or the outermost layer of the teeth is stained by foods or by other substances.  Red wine, coffee, tea, cola are types of drinks that stain teeth, and apples and potatoes have been known to leave stains behind if the teeth are not cleaned properly afterwards.  Smoking will also cause extrinsic stains on teeth.
  2. Intrinsic stains occur when the inner layer of teeth called the Dentin discolors.  There’s a variety of reasons why this is.
  • There may have been too much floride in the water when one is a child.
  • During pregnancy, if a mother takes certain antibiotics during the second half of the pregnancy, intrinsic tooth discoloration can occur, or if one uses them later in life.
  • During childhood, if one experiences trauma such as a bad fall, then this could damage the dentin, causing intrinsic tooth discoloration.

3.  Age-related discoloration.

With age, your teeth will naturally discolor, as your dentin gets yellower over time and the enamel gets thinner.  Also, as life goes on, many people end up getting chips and damage to their teeth.

It is important to note that teeth whiteners really only work on extrinsic stains on teeth.  Teeth will discolor over time, teeth get damaged and intrinsic stains can occur.  However, generally only stains on the enamel can be whitened. There are some manufacturers that claim that whiteners can whiten deep down in the dentin. This may or may not be the case, but if they can do it, more power to them!