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Your Oral Health

On the Dark Side

As we get older, our teeth tend to get darker. This may be the result of extrinsic stains (on the outside surface of the tooth) or intrinsic stains (discoloration that becomes part of the enamel).

Certain foods, drinks, and smoking are hazardous to your smile as they cause your teeth to darken. 


Certain foods, drinks, and smoking are hazardous to your smile as they cause your teeth to darken. These include coffee, tea, grape juice, carrot juice, berries, and beets. Hot tea and coffee are especially detrimental, because constant temperature change can cause your teeth to expand and contract, allowing stains to penetrate microcracks in the enamel.

There are other causes of discoloration. Teeth with old, large amalgam fillings may darken from silver salts released into the tooth from the filling. When an individual tooth darkens, it may be caused by trauma to the tooth or because the pulp (nerve) has died. Bleeding within the tooth or debris in the pulp also can create a dark gray appearance.

Intrinsic stains are caused by a systemic interruption of the forming tooth such as a high fever, certain medications or extra high doses of fluoride which may result in gray/brown bands or bright white patches from incomplete enamel formation before the tooth erupts.

Most extrinsic stains can be removed with a good cleaning and polishing. Other treatments for discoloration include bleaching, bonding, and/or porcelain veneers. If stains or tooth darkening are inhibiting your smile, talk to your dentist at your next appointment.

Oral Health & Wellness Content provided by Dentalxchange.