Teeth Whitening: Discoloration Causes & Treatment

Whitening your teeth regularly in addition to your normal dental hygiene routine is a surefire way to brighten your smile, while providing excellent dental and overall health. A whiter smile can also make a big difference in your self-confidence at your place of work, and during social gatherings. After all, your smile is almost always the first thing someone notices about you.

Causes of Discoloration

Discolored teeth can be embarrassing. Worse yet, it can affect the way others perceive you. There are numerous causes of discoloration of the teeth. These causes are usually split into three primary categories:

  • Extrinsic: which is defined as external causes such as coffee stains, smoking stains, cola stains, etc.
  • Intrinsic: which is defined as internal issues such as certain traumas, genetic deficiencies, increased fluoride ingestion as a child – even certain antibiotics can create discoloration of the tooth or dentin.
  • Age: which is defined as a commingling of both extrinsic and intrinsic causes. One of the primary age-related factors in tooth discoloration has to do with the fact that dentin yellows as we get older. In addition, tooth enamel thins out. This causes the color of the dentin to show.

In any case, discoloration of the teeth is a common occurrence. Even with proper dental hygiene, discoloration can happen to anyone. This is why teeth whitening can have such an impact on your everyday life.


When it comes to getting back that bright, beautiful smile – there are several treatments available. While some available options take very different paths, it is important that you consider your options and choose one that fits you best.

  • In-Office Whitening: In office whitening is among the better options when it comes to brightening your smile. Even in-office whitening brings with it several options, depending on your dentist and their options available to you. Power bleaching is quite possibly the most common. This is where a light-activated bleaching agent is used, resulting in whiter teeth in about 30-45 minutes. Once the gel is applied, a laser is most commonly used to activate the gel, adding further whitening benefits.
  • Take-Home Whitening Kits: Now there are two main types of take-home teeth whitening kits. One can be obtained at your dental office. The second can be purchased from the store. Purchasing a kit from a store, regardless of the marketing behind it, will never be as powerful as a kit purchased from your dentist. While these types of kits can range in price, it is always better to follow the advice of your dentist before making your decision.
  • Veneers/Partial Crown/Full Crowns – Some cases call for veneers, partial or full crowns. These situations are most common where simply whitening the tooth will not work, because it is dentin discoloration that is causing the overall tooth discoloration. A veneer, partial or full crown may be the best choice when this is the case.
  • Direct Composite Bonding – Direct composite bonding is another common option when standard or traditional teeth whitening solutions will not work. Direct composite bonding is essentially applying “filling” material to the face of the tooth, giving it density, strength, and a brand new whitened finish.

In any case, however, in-office whitening methods are usually the best option due to the strength and precision of the procedure. When done professionally, results are faster and your dentist will take special precautions when it comes to sensitive gums or teeth, according to WebMD.


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