There are few things that can impact the appearance of the smile as greatly as tooth color. No matter how straight and healthy the teeth may be, any smile is bound to look less than perfect if there are stains or discoloration on the teeth. Unfortunately, tooth discoloration is common. Most patients wish their teeth could be a few shades whiter, and many also have concentrated stains that they can’t seem to remove. The good news is that cosmetic dentistry treatments can enhance the appearance of the smile by brightening the color of the teeth and addressing stains.
There are several cosmetic treatments that improve tooth color, and the best treatment options vary from patient to patient. The main consideration in determining an appropriate teeth whitening treatment is which type of discoloration is present. The experienced dental team at Brown and Baran Family Dentistry discuss the different types of tooth discoloration with our Wilmington, DE patients.
Types of Tooth Discoloration
It may seem unnecessary to understand what type of tooth discoloration is affecting the teeth. To most people, the primary concern is that the teeth don’t look as bright and white as they desire. However, determining the type of discoloration that is present is important because each type of discoloration requires its own unique treatment. Trying to treat tooth discoloration with a technique that is not meant to address that particular type of discoloration will be ineffective. Below are the three types of tooth discoloration and how they may best be treated:
- Extrinsic discoloration: As the name implies, extrinsic discoloration describes situations in which the exterior of the teeth has become discolored. Extrinsic discoloration and surface stains are considered to be superficial. They do not penetrate past the tooth’s protective layer of enamel and are, therefore, easy to treat. Extrinsic stains respond very well to teeth whitening treatments that use bleaching agents. At our dental practice, patients can treat extrinsic discoloration with either in-office teeth whitening or at-home teeth whitening trays. Both methods can brighten the teeth by several shades while eliminating stubborn stains.
- Intrinsic discoloration: Intrinsic discoloration affects the interior layer of the teeth, the dentin. When the dentin is significantly discolored, or when the tooth enamel has worn down, intrinsic discoloration becomes visible. Intrinsic discoloration does not respond to traditional teeth whitening treatments that contain bleaching agents, so it must be treated differently. The best way to treat intrinsic discoloration is to conceal it. Dr. Brown and Dr. Baran offer several cosmetic treatments that can effectively treat intrinsic discoloration, including dental bonding, porcelain veneers, and LUMINEERS®. These treatments hide intrinsic discoloration to give the teeth a brighter, whiter appearance.
- Age-related discoloration: As the teeth age, they become more susceptible to staining and discoloration. While age-related discoloration is often discussed as a separate type of discoloration, it really is just a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration. Patients with age-related discoloration may achieve some improvement with traditional teeth whitening treatment, but if intrinsic discoloration is severe, they may be better suited to treatments such as dental bonding or veneers.
Schedule an Appointment
You do not have to let discolored teeth compromise the beauty of your smile. No matter what type of discoloration is present, our dentists have a cosmetic dentistry treatment that can address it. To learn more about our teeth whitening treatment options, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced dentists at Brown and Baran Family Dentistry.