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Down ArrowSTAINING.

WHAT CAUSES TOOTH DISCOLOURATION?

Surface stains (also known as extrinsic stains) are superficial stains located on the surface of the tooth. They include:

  • coloured Plaque (yes plaque comes in a variety of colours, usually yellow but also red, orange, brown and even green!)
  • Calculus/”tartar”/”scale”
  • tars from tobacco
  • tannins from teas, coffee and vegetables
  • coloured foods
  • some dental Mouthwashes (containing chlorhexidine eg Savacol)

These surface stains require dental plaque as a matrix or base in order for them to form. That is, plaque that is not removed from the tooth surface can act as a “sponge” to absorb the pigments which then hardens as calculus forms from free floating calcium present in the Saliva

Internal stains (also known as intrinsic stains) are coloured molecules and pigments that have become incorporated into the internal structure of the tooth. This can occur as the tooth is developing, or after the tooth has been present in the mouth

Some fifty conditions have been associated with changes to tooth structure as it forms. Some of these are:

  • Severe illnesses and fevers during childhood
  • Antibiotics such as tetracyclines taken in childhood
  • Medical conditions affecting the blood system or liver in childhood
  • Excessive levels of Fluoride intake in early childhood from swallowing Toothpaste, which can result in areas of whiteness (opacity) or brown mottling if excess

Conditions which can lead to internal colour changes in teeth that have already erupted in the mouth include:

  • Advancing age which leads to greater yellow colouration of teeth as the nerve of the tooth shrinks and lays down more Dentine
  • Corrosion products from Amalgam restorations which can give teeth grey staining
  • Tooth Decay
  • Problems with the dental Pulp (the“nerve”) after decay, Root Canal work, or damage to the tooth in an injury

 

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