Teeth stains: causes and your treatment options

A bright smile backed up by white teeth can leave a lasting impression. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

A bright smile backed up by white teeth can leave a lasting impression. The presence of stains on teeth however dwindles one’s appeal. Teeth discolouration is a common occurrence in both adults and children.

This happens due to several reasons and may affect the surface of the teeth, or below the enamel (outer part) while some people develop both types of pigments. Here’s what you need to know about your teeth' colour.

Types of teeth discolouration

There are three types of teeth stains; extrinsic stain appears on the surface of the teeth, when particles, such as pigmented residue from food, or drink, build up in the film of the protein that covers the enamel. This type of blemish responds well to improved oral hygiene with the help of whitening toothpaste. Common causes are tobacco, wine and regular consumption of coffee, or tea.

The second type of stain is intrinsic which refers to damage below the surface of the teeth. Particles work through the exterior of the tooth and accumulate within the enamel. Excessive fluoride use has also been associated with accelerating colour change.

The last type is age-related teeth stains resulting from exposure of the dentin (inner part) over time due to the wear and tear of the enamel (outer part) causing a yellow appearance. In addition, the combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic tooth discolouration plays a major role.

Prevention of teeth stains

Fortunately, a conscious decision can be made to maintain a white pigment. Keep your teeth and gums healthy by maintaining a consistent oral health routine including brushing twice a day and daily flossing, twice-yearly visits to your dentist and limiting your consumption of teeth-staining beverages.

Treatment options

There are several treatment options to consider depending on the type of stain. Different stains necessitate different interventions and it is, therefore, better guided by your dentist.

A visit to the dentist will help develop a treatment plan that is dependent on the type and nature of the stain. Professional teeth whitening includes the application of a bleaching agent directly to your teeth. Special lights combined with bleach may also be used to enhance the whitening. Visits to the doctor may be more than one session but a positive outcome is guaranteed.

Dr Darshna Gandhi is a Consultant Dentist at Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi

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