Stained teeth are a common cosmetic complaint. Food, beverages, and smoking can leave your teeth with yellow or brown stains. The solution is simple: teeth whitening! Each year, millions of Americans brighten their smiles with professional teeth whitening. And experts estimate that 37 million used teeth whitening products in 2020.
Yet, sometimes, tooth discoloration isn’t a result of food or drinks. Sometimes, tooth discoloration can indicate a more serious problem, and that’s what Mehrnoosh Darj, DDS is here to discuss today.
Why are your teeth stained?
Our team offers safe and effective teeth whitening treatments here at Dr. Darj Dental in El Paso, Texas. But before we can determine that tooth whitening is right for you, we need to first determine why your teeth are discolored.
Harmless sources of tooth staining include:
- Foods, such as tomato sauces, curry pastes or sauces, and berries
- Beverages, such as tea, wine, coffee
How and why each of these items stains your teeth can vary. For example, the tannins in wine can stain, some foods (such as curry) have dark pigments that stain enamel, and acidic foods promote staining by wearing down enamel and making your teeth more prone to staining. This is why white wine, despite its mellow color, can still contribute to tooth staining.
If you eat any of these common offenders, be sure to rinse your mouth after you eat and brush your teeth as soon as you’re able.
When tooth discoloration indicates you have a serious problem
Not brushing your teeth enough can also contribute to stains, especially if plaque and tartar build up. This is a not-so-harmless cause of staining because plaque and tartar can lead to oral health conditions such as gum disease.
Tooth discoloration 一 particularly a gray tooth 一 can also indicate other serious issues. If your tooth is damaged enough that blood flow decreases, the nerve in your tooth won’t receive enough blood and nutrients. This can cause your tooth to die.
You might suspect that the discoloration is related to decreased blood flow — or impending tooth death — if:
- Your tooth is gray
- You recently hit your tooth (sports injury or other type of accident)
- Your tooth is severely broken or chipped
- Only one tooth is affected
You may not always be able to save a tooth once the nerve has died, but in some cases, Dr. Darj may be able to preserve your tooth with a root canal. During a root canal, she removes any damaged or infected tooth pulp, cleans and fills your tooth with a special material, and then seals it and tops it with a crown.
If a root canal isn’t an option, Dr. Darj may recommend an extraction, and she may suggest replacing the tooth with a bridge or implant.
If you suspect that your discolored tooth may be related to an injury, call us to get the urgent dental care you need.
What to do for cosmetic staining
If your tooth discoloration is cosmetic only — meaning your tooth isn’t discolored due to tissue death — it’s generally an even discoloration across all of your teeth. For example, your teeth may be yellowish, but they’re all the same shade of yellow.
In most cases, professional teeth whitening can brighten your smile beautifully. If you’re not a candidate for tooth whitening, talk to Dr. Darj about alternatives.
If you’d like to explore your teeth whitening options or you’re concerned that you may have a more serious problem than staining, call Dr. Darj Dental at 915-213-4097 or book an appointment online.