Most dental issues, like cavities and gum disease, can be largely prevented with good hygiene and regular attention from your dentist. However, some things are unavoidable even with consistent dental care – like teeth stains. The problem with stained teeth is that they can occur regardless of the state of your dental health. Also, since teeth can stain in different ways, understanding yours is crucial to knowing how best to erase them.
The most common teeth stains are known as extrinsic stains, meaning they occur on the outer surfaces of your teeth. This surface, known as tooth enamel, is semi-translucent, so the color of your teeth is actually dictated by their dense main structure underneath it, known as dentin. As the most-used parts of your body, your teeth are consistently exposed to staining substances (i.e., food and beverages).
Over time, these substances can leave deposits on your teeth that stain the enamel, though professional teeth-whitening can effectively erase the stains and brighten your teeth.
Sometimes, the dentin of one or more teeth can develop stains – a condition known as intrinsic discoloration. Unlike extrinsic stains, intrinsic discoloration cannot be addressed with teeth-whitening because the solution cannot reach the source of the staining. Also, intrinsic discoloration can often indicate a more serious issue that just teeth stains, such as internal tooth damage, a developing tooth infection, and more.