discoloured teeth

The discoloured teeth - Teeth vary in colour from individual to individual and, in general, secondary teeth are darker in colour than primary teeth. In addition, teeth often get darker with age. The term discoloured teeth, however, refers to teeth that are abnormally coloured or stained.

Extrinsic stains (those found on the tooth’s surface) are common. They are usually easily removed by polishing and can be prevented by regular tooth cleaning. Smoking tobacco produces a brownish-black deposit on the teeth.

Pigment-producing bacteria can leave a visible, usually green, line along the teeth, especially in children. Some dyes in foodstuffs can cause yellowing; dark brown spots may be due to areas of thinned enamel stained by foods. Some bacteria produce an orange-red stain. Stains may also follow the use of drugs containing metallic salts.

Intrinsic stains (within the tooth’s substance) are permanent, but they can be reduced by bleaching. Causes include the death of the pulp inside the tooth or the removal of the pulp during rootcanal treatment.

The antibiotic drug tetracycline can be absorbed by developing teeth, and may cause yellowing of the teeth if given to children. Mottling of the tooth enamel occurs if excessive amounts of fluoride are consumed during development of the enamel (see fluorosis).

Hepatitis (liver disease) during infancy may lead to discoloration of the primary teeth. The teeth of children with congenital malformation of the bile ducts may be similarly affected.

Many stains can be covered or diminished with whitening toothpastes or with cosmetic dental procedures such as bonding and bleaching.


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