Stained Teeth Treatment Commonly Asked Questions
Stained teeth may be as a result of poor dental hygiene, tobacco use, ageing, specific medication and even diseases. Fortunately, your dentist can recommend the best treatment for stained teeth to help you regain your smile. In this article, we will discuss, the different types of teeth stains, how to prevent tooth discolouration and various tooth whitening and stained teeth treatment options in Malta.
Type of teeth stains
There are various types of teeth stains, ranging from yellow, grey, brown, yellow-brown, blue-grey, chalky white patches, brown spots, black, tan, and even lines that are dispersed across the tooth.
What causes teeth to change colour?
There are three leading causes of teeth staining;
These occur in the outermost layer of your tooth. The staining mainly occurs due to;
- Eating dark food products like wine, tea, coffee, among others
- Tobacco smoking or chewing
- A low saliva flow
- Inadequate dental hygiene
- Dental materials like amalgam restorations, especially those made from silver sulfide can cast a grey-black colour on your teeth
Since these stains are on the outer layer of the tooth, they can sometimes be removed with an appropriate whitening toothpaste. If whitening toothpaste does not deliver desired results, your dentist or professional hygienist can use other dental cleaning procedures to tackle the stains.
Intrinsic staining occurs on the inner structure of your tooth. They arise from the changes occurring in your teeth such as damage to a blood vessel or nerve canal. Such injuries may cause the inner part of your tooth to darken or form a yellowish tint.
Fortunately, restorative methods like crowning or bonding can help camouflage intrinsic stains. Bonding works by applying the composite resin to the surface of the discoloured tooth. Once the resin is completely cured, it is smoothened and polished, thereby restoring your tooth’s original white colour. For crowning, your dentist will place a tooth-coloured cap on the stained tooth to hide the staining. Veneers can also be used to mark stains and improve a smile overall.
- A high exposure to fluoride during childhood causes fluorosis
- Exposure to tetracycline antibiotics before the age of 8
- Tooth trauma as a child that interfered with a developing permanent tooth
- Injury to your permanent tooth that caused internal bleeding, which discoloured your tooth
- Genetics: some people naturally have a brighter and thicker enamel than others
Age-related tooth staining
As you age, the dentine of your teeth naturally gets darker while your enamel becomes thinner, leaving you with a yellowish smile. Since enamel discolouration does not cause this staining, you may need treatments that penetrate into your dentine. While whitening toothpaste may help remove some of the stains, it will not be sufficient. Your dentist may recommend an at-home bleaching kit or professional whitening treatments such as oral bleaches to remove deeper stains but even those may not be enough.
In case you do not achieve the result you want, your dentist can conceal them with restorations like crowns or bonding. These treatments entirely camouflage any discolouration resulting from your dentine.
What to do if tartar is the cause
If your stained teeth are as a result of tartar build up, a dentist can help fix the condition by performing scaling to bring back your beautiful smile.
What to do if decay is the cause
In such a case, your dentist will need to remove the decayed part of your tooth and restore it with a filling or a crown, depending on the extent of the decay.
The symptoms of staining teeth are quite easy to identify, especially if the stain is on the enamel- extrinsic. These stains may range from yellow tints, brown spots or pits or even white streaks.
For the staining caused by tartar, you will notice yellow/black/brown colouration on the outer part of your molars or the inside of your lower front teeth.
What stains can be avoided?
If you are worried about staining your teeth, consider avoiding the following things:
- Black tea
- Red wines
To prevent your teeth from extrinsic staining, we highly advise you to:
- Start healthy dental practices early. Brush your teeth after meals with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to prevent decay and staining
- Make sure to schedule dental visits after every six months
- Avoid or limit foods and drinks known for staining teeth
- Quit smoking
- Brush your teeth after drinking coffee, wine and other hard-staining foods and beverages
Intrinsic staining, on the other hand, is a little bit harder to prevent. Instead, this condition is treated rather than prevented. Fortunately, there are many ways through which tooth staining can be managed.
There is a vast array of treatment options available for teeth whitening, including:
- Bonding and veneers
- Whitening strips
- In-office whitening procedures
- In-home whitening procedures
- Using proper brushing and flossing techniques
- Intrinsic whitening – A specific whitening agent is applied within the tooth when discolouration is due to the tooth having been non-vital for a long time
- Air Prophylaxis” – this is a system whereby stubborn extrinsic (surface) stains are removed by means of an air-driven stream of sodium bicarbonate. This not only removes the stains but also imparts a fine lustre to the enamel surface. Savina Clinics offer 10-, 20- and even 30- minute sessions with our hygienists for removing otherwise difficult and severe staining. See full indicative pricing list here.
The type of treatment you choose depends on the extent of discolouration.
Tooth whitening versus stain removal
Stain removal is done during a routine dental cleaning appointment where the dentist uses an ultrasonic scaler to clean your teeth and polishes them with a conventional prophy polish. The results are typically instant.
Whitening, on the other hand, is a popular stain removal treatment that changes the colour of your teeth. It uses a chemical bond that breaks down the carbon bonds that create yellow staining, leaving you with whiter teeth.
What is the difference between teeth whitening and veneers?
Teeth whitening is a dental procedure that involves the application of a bleaching agent to whiten teeth. This treatment targets tooth discolouration to remove staining and improve the shade of enamel.
Veneers, on the other hand, are tooth-coloured shells of composite or porcelain that are placed on top of the outer part of your tooth. This treatment may require the permanent alteration of the tooth. It is recommended for people with no gum disease or any other dental issues as it mainly focuses on the aesthetic aspect of your smile.
Setting realistic expectations
When removing teeth stains, it is crucial that you set realistic expectations as the results vary from one person to the other. Some treatment options work better to mark certain stains than others.
The dentist will need to conduct a full oral examination to analyse your dental anatomy, calcification, your age, oral hygiene practices, and lifestyle to help them come up with the best treatment option for your teeth.
Tips for patients with heavily stained teeth
- Invest in an electric brush and clean your teeth at least twice a day
- Have regular dental checkups
- Use a straw for staining drinks and rinse out your mouth afterwards
- Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow
- Adopt good lifestyle changes like quitting smoking
Can Dental Implants Become Stained?
Unlike your real teeth, dental implants are made to resist discolouration. However, certain staining agents such as tobacco use may still cause some yellow discolouration to even dental implants. Please also note that heavy tobacco use can also lead to a dental implant being rejected, so hopefully, that can give patients an even stronger incentive to quit.
Have You Tried Our Free e-Consultation Service?
If you are worried about a dental related issue, interested in travelling to Malta for a dental holiday or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday.
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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.
Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics