Tooth Discoloration

Poetry compares teeth to pearls. But teeth unlike pearls, are exposed to a variety of elements in day-to-day life. All these exposures are bound to take its toll on teeth color. They are also called the sentries of the digestive system.


1. Intrinsic causes

Hereditary disorders.

Tetracycline medication.

Excessive fluoride intake in drinking water.

High fevers associated with early childhood disease.

2. Extrinsic causes

Stains from tobacco smoking.

Bacteria producing colored pigments.

A salivary protein layer covering the tooth surface.

Tooth decay or a broken down filling.


Intrinsic causes are usually seen at the time of teeth eruption.

- In hereditary conditions like erythroblastosisfetalis and

porphyria the teeth are colored in a brownish blue and a brownish red respectively.

Examples of stains caused by various metals are:

Copper dust

Greenish Stain


Brown Stain




Diagnosis is made based on the color of the stain. If the stain still remains after meticulous cleaning of the teeth by the dentist, it is understood that the stain is present within the substance of the tooth. A careful history taking can be useful in differentiating between an internal stain and an external stain.


Most external stains can be removed by thorough cleaning of teeth, with an instrument called “ ultrasonic scaler”. This instrument removes most of the stains caused by tobacco, food debris or bacteria. If a broken down filling or a cavity is the cause, filling the defect will improve the discoloration. Discoloration resistant to cleaning can be corrected or greatly improved through conservative procedures such as Bleaching, Micro abrasion or Veneering.

Stains caused by tetracycline medications are usually much difficult to treat, and might require a radical approach.


Is there anyway of preventing stains from smoking?

Yes, there is a way. Quit smoking, because there are no cigarettes available in the market, which do not cause staining. Usage of filters could reduce staining to a certain extent.


@2011 Dental Cure |All rights reserved