What to do with stained teeth

Dear Dentist,
I used to be a chronic smoker, but I quit four years back. However, my teeth are still coated with black stains. Can teeth whitening get rid of this problem? James – Fort portal

Dear James, many people have had this problem. This discolouration of teeth with stains on the surfaces of your teeth is known as extrinsic.

Extrinsic stains occur when the outer layer of the tooth called enamel is stained. These stains are usually caused by consumption of coffee, wine, cola products or other drinks and foods that can stain teeth. Smoking is another substance that leads to staining of teeth.

Extrinsic stains caused by smoking, foods and drinks can be removed by regular professional cleaning at the dental office. Good home care including brushing, flossing and rinsing after meals can reduce stains. Whitening toothpastes may also remove minor stains.

Another form of discolouration is intrinsic. Teeth whitening is more aised for those with intrinsic stains. They can also consider having a crown or a veneer in order to restore their natural smile.

However, there are intrinsic stains caused by damage to a nerve or blood vessel in a tooth. You may need to have root canal treatment to remove the inner part of the tooth (the pulp) before it has a chance to darken.

Intrinsic stains occur when the inner structure of the tooth called the dentine darkens or gets a yellow tint. This can happen if:
Your mother used tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy.

You used tetracycline antibiotics when you were eight years old or younger.
You had trauma that affected a tooth when you were a child. A fall, for example, may damage the developing permanent tooth.
You had trauma in a permanent tooth, and internal bleeding discoloured the tooth.

You were born with a rare condition called Dentinogenesis Imperfecta. This causes gray or purple discolourations.

You had too much exposure to fluoride products during early childhood.
Age-related discolouration : This is a combination of both extrinsic and intrinsic factors where the dentine naturally turns yellow over time.

This happens when the enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner with age, which allows the dentine to show through. You should note that foods and smoking can also stain teeth as people get older and also injuries can discolour your tooth, especially when the pulp has been damaged. See your dentist for thorough scaling and polishing and your worries will be no more.

The writer is a dentist
krdent@yahoo.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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