Chapel Hill Dentist Outlines How Dental Staining and Discoloration Develops

by Dr. Diane Hourigan | Date Published: 2017-08-01

Everyone wants a bright and white smile, but few of us are lucky enough to enjoy teeth that stay perennially white. There are a number of different things that can dull and stain our smile over time: some of these are substances, and some of these are behaviors or habits. Keep reading to get more information from our Chapel Hill dentists!

Have you ever noticed that young people seem to have whiter and brighter smiles than the rest of us? This is because these dental patients have enamel that is healthy and young. As time goes on, dental enamel naturally begins to change, and we get further and further away from the white teeth that we remember.

One reason that teeth become discolored is simply because, over time, our dental enamel is exposed to staining substances, and the effects compound over time. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, red sauces, chocolate, red wine, and more all leave color deposits on the enamel. These stains may start out as faint and practically imperceptible, and become more pronounced year after year.

At the same time, the structure of your tooth structure may be changing, resulting in aesthetic changes. Over time, our dental enamel tends to thin. As enamel becomes thinner, more of the dentin, the tooth layer under the enamel, shows through to the surface of the tooth. The problem is that dentin is naturally more yellow and dull than enamel, so thinning enamel leads to a discolored smile.

A number of everyday substances and habits can lead to enamel deterioration. For example, acidic substances weaken enamel and leave it susceptible to erosion. Patients who suffer from bruxism (chronic dental grinding) are likewise prone to suffering from dental thinning.

The key to effectively treating dental staining is to figure out the root cause of your specific discoloration. Environmental stains, for example, are often improved with professional topical whitening treatments. On the other hand, discoloration caused by structural dental changes may be better treated with solutions that cover natural enamel: dental bonding and veneers, for example.

There are so many aesthetic treatments available to patients today, you do not need to live with dental discoloration and staining! Give our Chapel Hill dentists a call to learn more and to schedule a consultation!