Cosmetic Dentistry for Internal and External Stains

Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Posted on Dec 05, 2015 by Dr. Everett Heringer

Handsome young man with a white smileDental discoloration is a common problem, but it can manifest itself differently for each person. Like most people, you may have extrinsic discoloration, resulting from food, drinks, smoking, or genetics. Other patients may have internal discoloration. These dark-colored stains can appear because of certain medications, infection, or discolored fillings. Whatever the cause of your tooth discoloration, Dr. Everett Heringer offers several cosmetic dentistry options to give you a bright, sparkling smile. With teeth whitening, veneers, and composite bonding, you are sure to find a treatment that meets your needs. To learn more about intrinsic vs. extrinsic tooth discoloration, contact our Bismarck, ND practice today.

What Causes Extrinsic Stains?

Most often, extrinsic stains appear because of the consumption of certain foods and drinks. When you regularly consume dark-colored substances, like coffee, tea, red wine, or soy sauce, they will leave pigmented molecules clinging to your teeth. These molecules, called chromogens, will lend a darker hue to your teeth, and no amount of brushing or professional cleaning will eradicate these stains. Smoking can have similar effects, since the dark-colored smoke and tar will leave molecules attached to your tooth enamel.

What Causes Intrinsic Stains?

Intrinsic stains are not as common as external stains, but because they are often very dark, they can be a cosmetic concern. Medications, especially tetracycline, often cause internal discoloration. Tetracycline affects the color of developing teeth. Therefore, if you took tetracycline as a child, or if your mother took it when she was pregnant, you may have permanently discolored teeth. Infection is another cause of discoloration. If the soft pulp inside your tooth becomes severely infected, your tooth may darken. Finally, if you had a metal filling placed in the past, it could eventually give your tooth a gray tint.

Teeth Whitening: The Most Common Option for External Discoloration

Teeth whitening is a simple, non-invasive option for extrinsic stains. Dr. Heringer proudly offers Zoom! teeth whitening, one of the most popular options for dental stains. During this in-office whitening procedure, Dr. Heringer or your hygienist will cover your teeth with a whitening gel. After activating the gel with a light, oxygen molecules will break apart dental stains. After less than one hour, your smile could be up to eight shades lighter.

You might also consider take-home Zoom! whitening. Like in-office care, this treatment uses peroxide-based gel to eradicate stains. However, you will administer the gel with a set of custom-made trays. After just a few days, you may notice a significant change in the color of your teeth.

Cosmetic Dentistry Options for Internals Stains

Teeth whitening can only target external stains, but Dr. Heringer offers a number of options for intrinsic discoloration. Porcelain veneers can be an excellent option. Not only can they address stains; since they attach directly to the front of teeth, they can conceal many other types of blemishes at the same time. After planning your treatment to ensure the desired results, Dr. Heringer will prep your teeth by trimming off a small amount of enamel. Then he will take impressions, which our lab will use to fabricate your veneers. When they are finished, Dr. Heringer will attach them to your teeth.

Dental bonding is another option that can achieve similar results to porcelain veneers. However, this process does not involve any tooth preparation. Instead, Dr. Heringer will apply composite resin directly to your teeth, covering up stains and other blemishes. Composite does not last as long as porcelain, but bonding can be a good option if you have worn enamel or if you are on a budget.

If your internal stains are the result of a discolored filling, Dr. Heringer can replace the old amalgam. He uses only tooth-colored composite, which can improve your oral health, as well as your appearance.

Learn More about Your Cosmetic Dentistry Options

Contact Heringer Dentistry to schedule an appointment and learn the most effective way to enhance your smile.