Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Tooth Stains

By Robert W. Hessberger, DDS on December 12, 2018

Tooth discolorationDental discoloration can leave your smile looking dull and lackluster. Fortunately, Dr. Robert Hessberger and team offer a wide range of treatments to address this issue at our Chicago, IL practice.

Before pursuing cosmetic dentistry options to brighten your smile, it is important to know the difference between the types of discoloration. Here, we explore extrinsic vs. intrinsic tooth stains and discuss treatments that can address each type of problem.

Extrinsic Dental Stains

Extrinsic stains are common. This discoloration occurs over time, and is a result of consuming dark-colored foods and beverages such as:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Fruit juice
  • Berries
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato sauce

Fortunately, extrinsic stains only affect the outermost layers of the teeth. Therefore, treating this type of discoloration is typically simple and straightforward.

Treatments to Address Extrinsic Discoloration

The go-to treatment for extrinsic stains is teeth whitening. While there are many whitening pastes, strips, and gels available over-the-counter, some of these products can actually damage your enamel over time.

Dentist-supervised teeth whitening can dramatically enhance the appearance of your smile. In fact, it can brighten your teeth by several shades in as little as one hour.

At our practice, we offer in-office whitening as well as take-home bleaching kits. Both achieve similar results, although our at-home options may take a few weeks to achieve the desired results. Those who opt for our in-office treatment can leave our practice with a brighter smile after a single appointment.

Intrinsic Dental Stains

In contrast to extrinsic discoloration, intrinsic stains darken the layers beneath the enamel. These stains can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Certain medications, such as tetracycline
  • Health conditions
  • Dental trauma
  • Over-fluoridation

Regrettably, intrinsic stains do not respond to teeth bleaching as extrinsic stains do. Therefore, individuals with this type of discoloration often require alternative cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Treatments to Address Intrinsic Discoloration

If you are unhappy about the appearance of stains that do not improve with whitening, there are other treatments that can help you achieve the smile you desire.

  • Dental bonding: Dr. Hessberger can apply a tooth-colored composite resin material to mask aesthetic flaws, including discoloration. After shaping and molding the material, Dr. Hessberger will harden it with a special curing light and polish it to a shine.
  • Porcelain veneers: Crafted from layers of high-grade ceramic, porcelain veneers can also conceal dental discoloration. This treatment requires some removal of natural tooth structure and can usually be completed in about two office visits.
  • Tooth-colored crowns: If the affected teeth require reinforcement or strength, dental crowns may be an option. These custom restorations fit over the whole tooth structure and blend in with the surrounding teeth.

To qualify for cosmetic dentistry, patients must be in good oral health. Therefore, any decay or periodontal disease should be treated prior to whitening, bonding, or any other aesthetic treatment.

Contact Our Practice Today

Are you ready to take back your smile? Eliminate stubborn dental stains with cosmetic dentistry. To schedule a visit with Dr. Hessberger, contact us online or call us at (773) 792-5562.

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