Tooth Discolouration and Teeth Whitening

2010 October 23
by Asha Sood

Teeth can become discoloured for a number of reasons and ageing is one of nature’s natural processes which can cause teeth to change colour from the white deciduous teeth often seen in children to the darker and more yellow appearance of older teeth.

However, other contributing factors do affect the colour of your teeth and these can be divided into extrinsic (or external factors) which cause surface staining and intrinsic (or internal) factors which cause internal staining.

Tooth discolouration can be the result of a variety of reasons, some of which include:

• Surface stains from food, drink and some medicines
The well known culprits here include coffee, tea, red wine, tobacco and strongly coloured berries.

• Antibiotic staining
Tetracycline antibiotics taken during childhood can cause discolouration in young teeth which are still not completely formed.

• Ageing
Generally speaking, teeth do change colour and often become darker as we age. This is due to the enamel becoming thinner and the hardening of teeth as part of the ageing process.

• Trauma or decay
Damage to, or removal of a nerve from a tooth can cause discolouration of the affected tooth. Rupture of blood vessels inside a tooth which has resulted in bleeding within a tooth can also result in darkening and discolouration of the traumatised tooth.

• Childhood illness
Teeth can become discoloured during their formation in childhood as a result of some illnesses.

There are many tooth whitening options which can help address the discolouration of teeth and your dentist should be able to advise you further.

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