Tooth discoloration is a cosmetic problem that occurs when the enamel (the outer surface of the tooth) or the dentine (the layer below the enamel) is discolored or stained. Stains adhere to the pellicle – an invisible, thin protein layer covering the tooth enamel. Unsightly tooth stains can cause great embarrassment and keep people from smiling.
Discoloration of teeth can be caused by a variety of extrinsic or intrinsic stains.
1) Extrinsic stains: Extrinsic stains are mainly caused by the daily intake of foods and beverages such as coffee, tea or the use of tobacco products, etc. These substances tend to adhere to the enamel and thereby discolor and reduce the brightness of the teeth.
2) Intrinsic stains: Intrinsic stains are caused by excessive intake of fluoride, certain drugs like tetracycline or due to dental pulp necrosis or developmental abnormalities. With time and age, the teeth accumulate more stains and tartar, causing them to look dull and discolored. In addition, as people grow older, the enamel that protects the teeth gets eroded, revealing the underlying deeper yellow color of dentin.
By making a few simple lifestyle changes, tooth discoloration can be prevented.
- Avoid consuming foods and drinks that contribute to teeth discoloration on a regular basis.
- Smokers may consider reducing intake or quitting altogether.
- Improve dental hygiene by regular brushing, flossing and getting teeth cleaned by a dentist once in six months.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medications you’re taking result in tooth staining as a side effect.
Tooth colour can be improved by a number of methods depending on the cause of discoloration.
- Using whitening toothpastes
- Professional cleaning
- Placement of crowns and veneers
The primary stain removal ingredient in conventional whitening tooth paste is either silica abrasive agent or bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Studies have shown that these abrasive/bleaching agents can cause some amount of tooth wear that result in tooth sensitivity. Continuous application or excessive use of bleaching agents also results in sore gums, which relieves only after discontinuation of the bleaching agent.
Enzyme based whitening toothpastes remove plaque and stains gently and safely without causing any undesired effects like harsh abrasion to the teeth, tooth sensitivity or sore gums. They lighten surface stains like coffee, tea, tobacco, wine, food colouring agents etc thereby restoring teeth to their natural whiteness.