Most people want white teeth. The reality is that white teeth aren’t easy to maintain. A combination of the natural aging process and what we eat causes our teeth to change color.

There are two major types of tooth discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic causes of discoloration are easier to prevent or control because they usually cause surface stains. Examples of extrinsic causes are smoking, poor oral hygiene, eating, and drinking. While you can stop smoking and take better care of your teeth, you can’t refrain from eating and drinking.

Dark drinks, such as coffees and teas, are known to stain the teeth. Highly acidic sugary drinks, such as wine and soda, are also known to discolor teeth. These are just a few causes of external discoloration. Just about anything you eat could potentially discolor your teeth because teeth yellow as enamel wears away and dentin shows through. This isn’t an overnight event. It happens gradually throughout a patient’s life.

To minimize discoloration from what you consume, be mindful of what you are eating and drinking. Rinsing with water after consuming drinks or foods that can stain your teeth will minimize surface stains. However, don’t brush your teeth within 30 minutes of eating or drinking because that could damage your teeth by allowing the acid to attack and demineralize your teeth further.

Intrinsic factors affect the inner structure of your teeth. This means that the dentin itself is discolored. Examples of intrinsic factors too much exposure to fluoride too early, a mother taking tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy, taking tetracycline antibiotics as a child 8 years old or younger, internal damage to the tooth, and various health conditions.

If you are concerned about your discolored teeth or want to discuss whitening options, call Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts. Dr. Makrauer and Dr. Miller will be able to explore options with you, so that you can find the one that’s right for you.  Oh, and one more thing… Don’t forget to see the dental hygienist at least twice per year for your dental cleaning.  Your smile will thank you!!