All About Tooth Discoloration: Types & Symptoms

All About Tooth Discoloration: Types & Symptoms

Dec 28, 2020

There is a reason why teeth are sometimes referred to as ivories. It is because they sparkle most brilliantly when they are white and unstained.

However, if your teeth are discolored, it is not something that you have to live with. There are dental solutions for dealing with yellowish-to-brownish, even grayish-looking teeth.

What Is Tooth Discoloration?

Just as the phrase suggests, tooth discoloration occurs when the natural color of your teeth changes. They lose their whiteness and turn a different shade. Often referred to as stains, they only become worse by getting darker in hue, unless you decide to have it treated through teeth whitening in Westwood, MA.

Most discoloration occurrences can be easily corrected with the aid of cosmetic dentistry near you, whereas severe cases will require more complex restorative methods.

3 Basic Types of Teeth Discoloration

1. Intrinsic
Intrinsic staining has its source inside of teeth themselves. This means that store-bought over-the-counter products may prove ineffective. Appointments for professional cosmetic teeth whitening with your dentist is highly recommended.

2. Extrinsic
This type of discoloration affects the exterior portion of teeth. Stains under this classification tend to spread only across the surface and mainly on the enamel alone. Although extrinsic staining is only surface-deep, it can worsen if you do not seek dental treatment.

3. Age-Related
As you age, the enamel of your teeth naturally loses its protective covering. This cycle results in discoloration. However, it could be curbed through teeth whitening treatments and avoiding the causes of intrinsic and extrinsic discoloration of teeth.

Causes of Discoloration

Foods & Drinks

It is a fact that any type of food and drink you consume will inevitably affect the way your teeth appear. Even nature’s goods, such as fruits, can affect the whiteness of teeth.

However, there are those which trigger tooth-staining much more than the rest. The juices of vibrantly colored fruits are some of the main variables which stain teeth.

Other foods that do not fall under this description may still weaken the enamel because of the acid they contain. Over time, and if left unattended, weakened enamel will eventually cause a change in tooth color.

Red wine and red sauces also have certain acidity levels, which etch the enamel in a similar manner.

Plaque, Tooth Decay, & Tartar

These three are mistakenly thought to mean the same thing, but there are differences in their definitions.

Plaque is a collection of bacteria that emerges as a sticky film on teeth. It can be dealt with through proper oral hygiene.

Tooth decay happens when plaque is undealt with, and so the plaque builds up and begins to eat away at teeth, forming cavities or holes.

Tartar, in contrast, is hardened plaque composed of dead bacteria and mineralized proteins, generally from saliva.

Fortunately, discolored teeth due to any of the above causes can be restored via Zoom Teeth Whitening, laser teeth whitening, and other dental whitening procedures.


Cigarettes have tar and nicotine, two active components that make teeth yellow (or brown for tobacco users). Besides deteriorating the enamel, nicotine disrupts blood circulation, especially in and to the gums.

When this transpires, and if you are a chronic smoker, your teeth and gums will be cut off from receiving essential nutrients and oxygen. Both are needed for structural support and strengthening against discoloration, bacteria, and decay.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that a certain antibiotic for children may be linked to teeth discoloration. One’s childhood years are crucial in calcification, and this antibiotic impedes its process, usually before teeth erupt through the gums. A lack of calcium in the formative years will prevent teeth from achieving their optimal whiteness.

Although this is prevalent in children, adult teeth can still also be affected by this antibiotic.

We recommend visiting a dentist for cosmetic dentistry in Westwood, MA when you notice the first signs of discoloration. Letting stained teeth be treated early will ensure that they will not worsen. In addition, maintaining white teeth will be easier as well.

To schedule an appointment with our dentist in Westwood, MA, at Westwood Dental Group, give us a call or book online.

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