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What causes Intrinsic Tooth stains?

Last month we talked about the causes of extrinsic tooth stains (stains that affect the outer layer of the tooth). Today we'll be discussing Intrinsic stains, what they are, what causes them and some ways to treat them.

What are Intrinsic tooth stains?

Intrinsic tooth stains are tooth discolorations that happen on the inside or inner layer of the tooth. Unlike extrinsic stains (tooth stains that occur on the surface or outer layer of the tooth), intrinsic stains (for the most part) can NOT simply be removed during a dental teeth cleaning or even with a teeth whitening procedure. These stains are considered "permanent" and can only be eliminated by doing some sort of cosmetic dentistry to cover them or remove the affected area.

What causes Intrinsic tooth stains?

There are a few common causes of intrinsic stains, perhaps one of the most common intrinsic stains we encounter on patients are those caused by Fluorosis. These stains occur when a person consumes a significant amount of fluoride and other minerals during tooth development. This is frequently seen in persons who grew up drinking well water and didn't have a mineral filtration system to reduce the amount of fluoride and other minerals in the water.

Another cause of intrinsic stains are those caused by injury. If a child's tooth receives damage as a result of a fall or hit during tooth development, this can result in tooth discoloration to the adult tooth.

Antibiotic medications such as Tetracycline can also cause tooth discoloration if these are taken during a child's tooth development. This is because Tetracycline binds to the Calcium that is used for the development of the tooth, giving it a yellowish appearance when these teeth erupt.

How do you treat intrinsic stains?

Because intrinsic stains can't be simply removed during a dental cleaning or with a teeth whitening procedure, they often require cosmetic dentistry to hide or remove them.

A common and least invasive way to hide these intrinsic stains is by bonding a tooth color filling on top of the stained area, these types of filling are typically done on stains that are small.

If the stained area is large and/or covers significant portion of the tooth, then a crown or veneers would be the most appropriate treatment for it. Crowns and Veneers require the remove of tooth structure, but the latter is not as invasive since it typically only requires the removal of enamel from the front aspect of the tooth.

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