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Cosmetic Dentistry San Antonio

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Tooth Stains

Digital image of discolored, stained teethEven if your teeth are straight and healthy, staining and discoloration can detract from your smile’s appearance. Fortunately, our team at River City Dental Solutions in San Antonio, TX offers a wide range of dental services, including preventative, restorative, and cosmetic treatments.

Here, Drs. Joseph Perry and Thomas Shields explore intrinsic vs. extrinsic tooth stains and recommend appropriate treatment options for each.

What Are Extrinsic Tooth Stains?

Extrinsic stains are the most common type. This discoloration affects the outermost layers of the teeth and occurs over time due to staining agents in the standard modern diet, such as tea, coffee, berries, fruit juice, red wine, colas, tomato sauce, and soy sauce.

Although it is difficult to eliminate these foods from your diet entirely, we recommend consuming them in moderation. Reducing your intake can help prevent staining and discoloration.

Treatments for Extrinsic Tooth Stains

Teeth whitening is incredibly effective for extrinsic tooth stains. At our practice, we offer in-office bleaching for your convenience. In just one office visit, your teeth can be lightened up to eight shades.

To perform this treatment, your dentist will place a barrier over the gums to protect them from the bleaching gel. Next, concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel will be applied to the teeth. In some cases, the gel may be exposed to a special ultraviolet light to accelerate the whitening treatment.

After 15 minutes, the gel is rinsed off and reapplied. This process will be repeated approximately three times to achieve the desired results.

What Are Intrinsic Tooth Stains?

Unlike extrinsic stains, intrinsic discoloration affects the inner layers of the teeth. This condition can be caused by several different factors, including genetics, certain medications, dental trauma, or excessive fluoride exposure during childhood. Because intrinsic stains are often unavoidable, there is no specific way to prevent the problem from occurring. However, the risk for trauma-related intrinsic staining can be reduced by wearing a mouth guard when participating in contact sports.

Treatments for Intrinsic Tooth Stains

Unfortunately, teeth whitening is not effective for intrinsic staining because the discoloration is deep within the tooth structure. However, the condition can be treated with other cosmetic procedures, including:

  • Dental bonding: Tooth staining can be masked by applying composite resin to the affected teeth. This procedure is safe, effective, and completely reversible. Dental bonding typically lasts about six or seven years with appropriate maintenance.
  • Porcelain veneers: Like bonding, veneers also hide cosmetic flaws such as discoloration. These durable, custom-made ceramic shells adhere to the front surfaces of the teeth for dramatic results.
  • Porcelain crowns: Similar to veneers, crowns are also custom-made restorations. However, crowns are bonded over the entire tooth structure rather than just the front surfaces. This is an excellent option if a weakened tooth requires reinforcement.

Contact River City Dental Solutions

Treating dental discoloration can make a significant improvement in your smile and your self-esteem. If you have dental staining, take the first step toward achieving your new smile by scheduling an appointment with us. Call our office at (210) 349-3745 or contact us online anytime.

Tagged In: Cosmetic Dentistry

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Dr Perry is a great dentist. Very kind and informative. I feel like he is personally invested in my health. He always takes the time to sit and discuss any issues I'm having - I never feel like they're rushing me out.

-Channa B.

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