How To Treat/Prevent Tooth Discolouration?

Posted on Posted in General Oral Health

Do you have any discoloured or stained tooth in your oral cavity? How to prevent & eliminate these discolouration & staining?

Tooth Discolouration (also known as Tooth Staining) is defined as abnormal tooth translucency, colour or hue due to any cause. Any tooth in the oral cavity has the possibility of being discoloured or stained. External discolouration refers to the accumulation of stains on the tooth surface. Internal discoloration is caused by absorption of pigment particles into tooth structure.
Symptoms of tooth discolouration include stains on the dental enamel. These discolourations can range from white streaks to yellow tints or brown spots and pits. If the enamel has worn away, and dentin is showing through, a yellow or brown tint may be shown. Most people think that tooth discolouration or tooth staining is considered as normal incident. In fact, most of the tooth discolouration & tooth staining are not inevitable.

What Are The Different Types Of Tooth Discolouration (Tooth Staining)?

In general, tooth discolouration (tooth staining) can be classified into 2 categories:

  1. Extrinsic Tooth Discolouration. This occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained. Extrinsic tooth discolouration can be further classified as below:
    • Extrinsic staining due to direct staining from coffee, tea, cigarettes, betel nut, calculus & plaque.
    • Extrinsic staining due to indirect staining from the use of medications such as Chlorhexidine & Cetylpyridinium Chloride.
  2. Intrinsic Tooth Discolouration. This occurs when the inner structure of the tooth (the dentin) darkens or gets a yellow tint. This type of discolouration can be due to:

What Are The Problems Caused By Tooth Discolouration?

  • Aesthetically unpleasant teeth.
  • Significant effect on psychosocial development.
  • Results in loss of self-esteem.
  • Causing damage to physical and mental health.
  • Causing negative emotions such as anxiety.
  • Affecting general health and ability of an individual to participate fully in society.

Although it seems normal, but it does cause significant impacts especially to those who always socialise with a lot of people.

What Are The Treatment Options Available For Tooth Discolouration?

The treatment of choice for tooth discolouration is dependant upon the cause of tooth staining. Basically, the common treatment options available for tooth discolouration (tooth staining) are included below:

  1. Dental Scaling & Polishing can be done to remove extrinsic stains.
  2. Enamel micro-abrasion. In this procedure, superficial intrinsic tooth discolouration will be removed.
  3. Bleaching of discoloured teeth. Bleaching can be further classified as Vital Bleaching & Non-vital Bleaching.
    • Vital Bleaching is done on vital teeth. This procedure is indicated for patients with generalized yellow, orange, or light brown extrinsic discolouration.
    • Non-vital Bleaching is done on non-vital teeth. This procedure is indicated for patients with discoloured teeth due to pulpal degeneration. Root Canal Treatment is needed before non-vital bleaching procedure.
  4. Placement of Dental Crowns. Dental crown is indicated for root canal treated tooth and discoloured tooth with extensive loss of tooth structure.
  5. Placement of Dental Veneers. Dental Veneer is indicated for root canal treated tooth and discoloured tooth with minimal loss of tooth structure. Dental Veneers are usually done on anterior (front) teeth.
  6. Root Canal Treatment followed by Dental Crown/ Dental Veneer/ Tooth Bleaching if the cause of tooth discolouration is due to pulp necrosis.

How To Prevent Tooth Discolouration (Tooth Staining)?

  1. Practise good oral hygiene (daily tooth brushing, flossing, tongue cleaning & use of mouthwash).
  2. Avoiding foods and drinks that can stain your teeth.
  3. Using over-the-counter teeth whitening agents.
  4. Using professional whitening products which are recommended by dentists.
  5. Do not smoke or quit smoking.
  6. Regular professional dental cleanings (such as scaling & polishing) done by a dentist.
  7. Avoid too much exposure of fluorides in children to avoid tooth discolouration due to fluorosis.

If you are in doubt, always consult your dentist to figure out the most suitable dental treatments for your teeth.


Your Dentition. Our Passion.

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Article written by,

Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
Dental Surgeon.

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