Teeth whitening is very popular, and it can be effective against many causes of tooth discoloration. But not all types of discoloration respond to teeth whitening. Here are some of the more common ones.
Discoloration Due to Fillings and Other Restorations
Metal amalgam fillings are made of metals that can oxidize. The filling itself will turn black in color, and the dark filling can cause your tooth to look darker because the tooth is translucent. Sometimes metals from the filling will also migrate through the enamel, causing the entire tooth to become discolored.
Some other types of restorations can discolor the tooth, too, including some glass ionomers and metal pins that are used to strengthen a tooth from within or attach a partial removable denture.
Tooth Wear and Erosion
With age and with use, dental enamel can wear down. As the enamel gets thinner, the yellowish dentin inside the tooth becomes more visible. This can be accentuated by the darkening of dentin with age. Wear occurs mostly on the contact (occlusal) surfaces of the teeth, and can be sped up by an imbalanced bite or bruxism (tooth grinding).
Erosion is when your enamel is removed by things other than the action of your teeth. Most often, it’s related to acids in the mouth, and these days the most common acids in the mouth are acidic beverages such as cola, sports drinks, and fruit juices, but stomach acid could also be responsible.
If your teeth are being decayed by oral bacteria, the damaged enamel and dentin turn a blackish color. Even if the source of decay is hidden from view, the entire tooth may become discolored. This gets even worse if the tooth is infected and may either need a root canal, or extraction.
Trauma to the tooth, either when it’s developing in the jaw or after it’s emerged, can cause discoloration. Damage to a developing tooth can affect the development of the enamel, but damage to a fully developed tooth causes discoloration by causing bleeding inside the tooth, essentially a bruise.
Chemical exposure when your teeth were developing could have caused the enamel to become discolored. Fluorosis from exposure to excess fluoride as a child, results in the development of spots on the enamel, usually white spots, but they may be dark in color, even brown.
Tetracycline antibiotics can also cause discoloration of the enamel. These antibiotics may cause teeth to turn yellow, brown, gray, even green or blue.
When Teeth Whitening Won’t Work
When teeth whitening won’t change the state of your discolored teeth, we need to cover them to improve the appearance of your smile. Dental crowns or porcelain veneers work well for this purpose. If you have an amalgam filling responsible for the discoloration, we may also recommend removing it.
To learn how to correct your stubborn tooth stains, please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a Savannah cosmetic dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry today.