What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
Several factors can contribute to tooth discoloration – from medications you take to the foods you eat. There are two main types of dental stain: Extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains respond to professional teeth whitening, and in some cases, to over-the-counter whitening options as well.
Extrinsic stains are those that are on the exterior of the tooth. These types of stains are caused by foods and beverages such as:
- Tea (black and green)
- Wine (red and white)
- Acidic foods (like tomatoes)
- Soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks (even clear-colored ones)
Smoking and chewing tobacco, as well as smoking marijuana, can also cause extrinsic stains. Additionally, poor oral hygiene can contribute to extrinsic staining of the teeth.
Intrinsic stains are stains inside the tooth, below the enamel. These stains are caused by certain medications, medications taken by a pregnant woman (like tetracycline, which can cause staining in her child’s teeth), and trauma.
When a tooth experiences trauma, the pulp (nerve) can die, causing the tooth to turn dark. After root canal therapy, it may be possible to brighten the tooth from the inside out. However, this isn’t always successful, and often, a crown is necessary to improve the tooth’s appearance and provide strength and structure.