Teeth whitening is undeniably one of the most discussed trends in cosmetic dentistry today. The purpose of teeth whitening however is rather straightforward: removing stains and discolouration from your teeth. Whether you accumulated the unsightly discolouration from years of coffee drinking, imbibing red wine or smoking, the goal is to remove the stains and discolouration that make our teeth look yellow, grey or just plain dirty. Before we go about the business of removing the discolouration, we should study what causes the stains in the first place, so that we may prevent or reduce the impact of discolouration.

Main tooth discolouration types

To understand the causes and effects of discolouration as it relates to your teeth, you must first know about the two categories of discolouration that would in turn explain where the stains come from and their possible remedies.

tooth discolouration types

Whether you accumulated the unsightly discolouration from years of imbibing red wine or smoking, the goal is to remove the stains that make our teeth look yellow, grey or just plain dirty.

Extrinsic stains

These are the so-called ‘external’ type of stains that form on the surface of your teeth when they have been exposed over time to dark-coloured beverages (eg. Red wine and tea), food (including sauces and gravies) and tobacco products. They may even be the result of routine wear and tear from prolonged chewing and grinding activities.

While some types of minor extrinsic stains can be removed through regular brushing and flossing, others require professional dental cleaning (prophylactic) performed at a dental cleaning. Then there are those extrinsic stains that have been accumulating over a longer period, that have already penetrated your enamel (outer layer of your teeth) into the dentin (inner layer). These are the type of stains that require professional teeth whitening methods that can provide a deeper clean – mostly using active bleaching agents infused with Hydrogen Peroxide ingredient.

tooth discolouration types

Extrinsic stains form on the surface of your teeth when they have been exposed over time to dark-coloured beverages like red wine, coffee and tea.

Intrinsic stains

Intrinsic stains are those that occur on the ‘inside’ of the tooth, mainly as a result of aging, trauma or exposure to tetracycline minerals or excessive amounts of fluoride. Age-related discolouration is caused by the weakened salivation of older people, when their bodies lose the ability to battle the stains. This makes it easier for plaque and bacteria to accumulate and stain their teeth. The other reason why many old people have yellowish teeth is because of the thinning of their tooth enamel, revealing the yellowish underlying layer of dentin.

In the past, dentists believed that intrinsic stains were too ingrained to be removed by bleaching methods. Advanced forms of modern whitening techniques have been known to counter the effects of intrinsic discoloration with much success. Depending on the severity of intrinsic stains, cosmetic dental experts have proven the efficacy of dentist-prescribed, take-home teeth whitening systems in removing even the most challenging intrinsic stains. Best results are achieved if it is well supervised (by a dentist) over a longer than usual period (may take months).

Before you decide on the best whitening method, it is a good idea to consult with your dentist on your type of tooth discolouration and which category you fit into. There are many different treatment options to achieve whiter and brighter teeth and understanding the underlying causes of your problem will make finding a suitable solution so much easier. It’s certainly easier than trying every brand of over-the-counter (OTC) whitening toothpaste or home-whitening kit currently available.

tooth discolouration types

Before you decide on the best whitening method, it is a good idea to consult with your dentist on the tooth discolouration types and which category you fit into.

To find out more about tooth discolouration types and whitening solutions, speak to client management team at Quality Dental in North Sydney. Call Quality Dental Sydney on (02) 9922 1159 or visit www.qualitydental.com.au