Tooth Whitening Basics - Why Are My Teeth Discolored?
If you're embarrassed by your discolored teeth, you're not alone. There's a reason cosmetic dentistry, including teeth whitening, is a multibillion dollar industry. We all want brighter, whiter teeth. While it would be nice to get the smile you'd love naturally, that just isn't an option. So, who's to blame? Why are you struggling with tooth discoloration to begin with? Good news - it may not be your fault!
Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration
There are a number of causes of potential tooth discoloration, and some are completely unavoidable on your part. While the precise cause of your tooth discoloration may be difficult to peg down, chances are one or more of the following causes are to blame.
- Food and Drinks. You may have heard that coffee, tea and soda can stain your teeth, but did you know certain veggies, like potatoes and apples, can stain them as well?
- Tobacco. This is a given. Smoking and chewing will not only discolor your teeth, but can also cause gum disease or contribute to oral cancer (among other health conditions).
- Poor Dental Hygiene. If you don't want to give up your morning coffee or kick your smoking habit, then you're going to have to try to compensate with excellent dental care. Regular brushing and flossing can reduce the odds that you will stain your teeth. Regular check ups and cleanings are critical, too.
- Disease. Ahh… finally, we're discussing possible causes for tooth discoloration that aren't your fault. Several diseases that affect tooth enamel and dentin can lead to tooth discoloration. What's more, treatments for certain conditions, such as chemotherapy to fight cancer, can discolor your teeth. If you're pregnant while suffering from one of these ailments or undergoing one of these treatments, the teeth of your developing child may be affected as well.
- Medications. Certain antibiotics, such as tetracycline and doxycycline, can discolor your teeth, particularly if used before the age of 8. Mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain teeth, while antihistamines (like Benadryl), antipsychotic drugs and antihypertensive medications also cause discoloration.
- Genetics. When all else fails, blame mom and dad.
- Age. Nothing escapes the affects of age - not even your teeth.
- Environment. Excessive fluoride from environmental sources, such as naturally high fluoride levels in the water, can contribute to discolored teeth.
DR. GARY SIGAFOOS