Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Tooth Stains: What Is the Difference?

Stephen Malki Jun 27, 2018

Teeth whitening before and after photoDental stains come in many different forms, which means that dentists need to consider various treatments to whiten a patients teeth. Thankfully we offer the latest in cosmetic dentistry and restorative dental care procedures, which allows us to brighten smiles and enhance your overall self-confidence in the process. It’s one of the reasons our practice has built a strong patient base in the River Edge, New Jersey area.

Let’s take a moment to consider the differences between extrinsic dental stains and intrinsic dental stains. We’ll cover the causes and briefly go over the treatments that can help.

What Are Extrinsic Dental Stains?

Extrinsic dental stains are the type of tooth discoloration most people are familiar with. Extrinsic dental stains originate on the surface of the tooth, causing discoloration of the enamel layer. The discoloration is usually yellow or brown in color.

The Causes of Extrinsic Dental Stains

Since extrinsic dental stains are the result of external substances, the causes of these kinds of dental stains tend to be common sense.

  • Cigarettes and cigars
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sodas
  • Red wine
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Curries

Tooth decay can also lead to some level of staining and discoloration on the surface of a tooth.

As a general rule, if something can stain a white shirt, it can also lead to stains on your teeth.

Treatments for Extrinsic Dental Stains

When treating extrinsic dental stains, there are a few options to consider:

  • Teeth Whitening - Teeth whitening treatments bleach the discolored tooth enamel, making your teeth appear brighter in the process.
  • Dental Bonding - Tooth-colored dental resin is painted directly onto your teeth, masking imperfections from view such as stains and other flaws.
  • Porcelain Veneers - These thin shells of dental ceramic adhere to the fronts of the teeth and blend in seamlessly with your natural tooth structure, masking imperfections from view.

What Are Intrinsic Dental Stains?

While extrinsic stains originate on the surface of the teeth, intrinsic dental stains come from within. These kinds of stains can be yellow or brown in color, but they can also be gray or white in color as well.

The Causes of Intrinsic Dental Stains

Intrinsic dental stains have a number of different causes.

  • Injuries to the tooth
  • Too much fluoride as a child
  • Excessive use of certain antibiotics
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Genetics/family history

Proper diagnosis of the cause of your intrinsic dental stains will determine the ideal approach for treatment.

Treatments for Intrinsic Dental Stains

Since teeth whitening only targets the outer layers of a tooth, it will not be able to address intrinsic discoloration. Other treatments will be needed instead.

  • Dental Bonding - Tooth-colored dental resin will conceal the stain from view, and it can blend in rather well with your existing tooth structure.
  • Porcelain Veneers - These thin shells of dental ceramic are exceptional at masking imperfections from view. Few will notice that a veneer is in place.
  • Porcelain Dental Crowns - When tooth injury is the cause of an intrinsic stain, porcelain crowns are most ideal. They will hide the stain from view and protect the tooth from further harm.

Learn More About Advanced Dental Care

For more information about teeth whitening options and treating dental problems, be sure to contact the team at Malki Dental. We look forward to your visit and discussing these matters in much greater detail.

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111 Kinderkamack Rd
River Edge, NJ 07661

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