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4 Tooth Stain Causes That You Cannot Prevent With Routine Oral Care

Kids are taught from a young age that brushing and flossing two to three times each day will keep teeth white and healthy. Unfortunately, teeth can still end up covered in unsightly stains despite performing thorough brushing and flossing routines with the best tools on the market.  Putting daily effort into maintaining oral health does not address discoloration caused by factors beyond tooth decay. Here are four common causes of these stains and a simple way to hide the marks from view once the problem develops.


The use of bright silver amalgam fillings often turns the rest of the tooth a dark grey color as the pigment spreads. Although dentists are moving toward the use of composite materials to fill in decayed areas, sometimes it is necessary to use amalgam instead.  

If patients can foot the bill, dentists may offer gold composite fillings when amalgam is warranted. Unfortunately, gold fillings frequently cost ten times the amount of silver. Patients with existing amalgam fillings can have them replaced with composite or gold, but the replacement will not reverse staining that already occurred.


Hitting the mouth on a solid object, such as in a car accident or while playing sports, can cause trauma to the root, pulp and dentin of the tooth. Disruption to these internal structures, especially during early development, often leaves the structure tinged with opaque white, light grey or dark yellow lines. A severe smack to a baby tooth can even damage the crown of the adult tooth waiting below.

Although the dentist cannot reverse the discoloration, it is important to immediately go in for a checkup to have the health of the tooth assessed. The trauma could lead to the death of the tooth if the roots or other structures do not heal properly.


As all of the organs and structures in the body are interconnected, disease processes throughout the body can affect the teeth. Metabolic disorders, which wreak havoc on the balance of hormones and chemicals in the body, often have a serious impact on tooth health.

Tooth discoloration caused by disease processes can even begin before the teeth pop through the gum surface. Parents only become aware of the damage as the teeth slowly emerge a different shade than expected. For example, a child's teeth can come through the gums a deep shade of green if bilirubin levels from the liver remain elevated for too long. Sometimes, the detection of serious health conditions, like celiac disease, comes about from noticing dental staining without a known cause.


The very medication designed to treat diseases that cause tooth discoloration may lead to stains themselves. Antibiotics and steroids, in particular, frequently leave teeth with intrinsic and extrinsic discoloration. The extrinsic discoloration comes from chemical reactions from deposits on the outer portion of the teeth. This type of staining often responds well to whitening procedures.

The intrinsic stains, however, come from structural changes inside the tooth from the root pulp to the dentin. No amount of whitening can alter those structures and restore the original color of the patient's teeth.  

Handling The Stains

Unfortunately, as with intrinsic medication-related discoloration, stains caused by fillings, trauma and disease do not respond to whitening treatments. Although the deep stains cannot be fully removed, dentists can place veneers on the front of the teeth to make your smile white again. The veneers replicate your original smile's tone and shape to restore your expected appearance. Installation does not hurt or cause any extra damage to your tooth or root structure. In fact, porcelain veneers strengthen and protect enamel from developing chips, cracks and other types of external damage.  

For more information about treatment for your discolored teeth, contact a local dental clinic like Claremont Dental Institute