There are many things that may lead to a discoloured tooth or teeth. The treatment you are advised and how the discolouration is managed will be dependent on the exact cause of the discolouration.
There is a spectrum of treatments that can be carried out ranging from simple cleaning to more complex involved dentistry.
There are various aspects of a tooth “colour” that changes depending upon the cause of the discolouration. By assessing this we are able to understand the severity of the condition. Read more about treatment.
Colour changes that we assess include:
- Hue: a tooth can change colour from yellowing to brownish to darken. These changes represent damage to a tooth structure.
- Value: this is the darkening effect of a tooth.
- Chroma: this is the intensity of colour. Very dark teeth appear black. This can occur when old amalgam fillings leak and stain the inside of the tooth.
- Translucency: sometimes a tooth can appear more translucent and darker due to the thinning effect of the enamel. This can occur in tooth wear cases especially of front incisor teeth.
Tooth discolouration falls into two main categories:
1) Intrinsic discolouration
This is staining that originates from inside the structure of a tooth. Read about Root Canal Treatment. It can include causal things like:
- A dying tooth from trauma or injury. This is common in children’s teeth. The discolouration is from internal bleeding that appears as a gradually darkening tooth.
- An infected tooth can lead to darkening of the tooth.
- Antibiotics such as Tetracycline given during the second half of pregnancy when a child’s teeth are developing can cause staining that appears as a brownish line through all the teeth.
- Too much fluoride given during the formative stage of adult teeth leading to Fluorosis marks on the teeth.
- Malformation of the developing teeth due to genetic anomalies or disease e.g. amelogenesis imperfect or dentinogenesis imperfect.
- Old amalgam fillings can leak and cause a darkening of the tooth
- Aging can cause the teeth to appear more yellow due to the thinning of the enamel over time revealing more yellow dentine.
2) Extrinsic discolouration
This is staining or discolouration that occurs on the surface of the teeth usually from a build up over time. Find out more about teeth whitening. This includes things like:
- A stain that accumulates due to food and drink such as tea and coffee staining. Also, red wine can cause discolouration.
- Stains can occur from damaging habits like smoking tobacco and cigarettes.
- Poor dental hygiene with the build-up of Plaque and tarter.
- Fungal growth on teeth.
- Too much fluoride can lead to white marks on the surface of teeth.
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