Tooth staining is any discolouration that occurs in or on your tooth surfaces. Staining can be internal (called intrinsic) or external (called extrinsic). It can range from mild to severe and can be localized to one or a few teeth or generalized to most teeth. Staining can also appear in various colours or shades depending on the cause and location. 

Intrinsic Stain Vs. Extrinsic Stain 

An intrinsic stain is a stain occurring inside the tooth that affects the shade of the tooth from the inside. The enamel of your teeth is made up of microscopic tubules that lead from the outer enamel surface to the inner dentin, and intrinsic stain occurs when the stain travels through these tubules.

Extrinsic stain is a stain that sits on the outer layer of the tooth and does not affect the actual internal shade of the tooth. External staining is the type of staining that can be removed at your routine dental cleanings or with professional teeth whitening products. Intrinsic staining is the type of staining that cannot be removed at your regular dental cleanings and requires some form of cosmetic dental procedure to improve the shade. 

Cause of Stain 

There are many different reasons stain may occur, depending on whether the stain is internal or external. The cause of internal stains may be a root canal treatment, a filling that is breaking down, a tooth with defective enamel, ageing, smoking, and consumption of foods and drinks that are dark in colour. The cause of external staining is also consumption of foods and beverages that are dark in colour, smoking and sometimes just a particular type of oral bacteria that leads to more staining.

Prevention of Staining 

  • Use a straw for coffee/soda to prevent the liquid from being exposed to the front teeth 
  • Drinking lots of water 
  • Brushing after meals and before bed 
  • Reducing intake of coffee, red wine and soda 
  • Reducing smoking 
  • Seeing your dental hygienist regularly (at least every six months) for cleanings

If you are due for a dental cleaning or have questions about tooth staining, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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