Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to remove tooth stains

Dental hygienist teeth cleaning removing stains
Extrinsic Stains on Teeth

Stains on teeth often look like dark spots and patches on the outside and inside surfaces of the teeth, and many patients often ask on how to remove them during their dental cleaning visit.

There are typically two types of stains, extrinsic and intrinsic stains.

  1. Extrinsic Stains may be caused by repeated short term exposures to tea, coffee, blueberries, wine, and food condiments like ketchup and soy sauce.  They may look like dark black and brown patches on certain parts of the teeth's external surfaces.
  2. Intrinsic Stains may be caused by the antibiotic tetracycline taken when the patient as a young child or repeated heavy long term smoking and tobacco habits.  It may also be a result of malformation during embryonic development.  These type of stains may present itself as a dark gray or red internal discoloration where the entire tooth is discolored, and may be very difficult or near impossible to remove.

If the stains are extrinsic they can usually be removed during the cleaning appointment.  The dental hygienist or dentist may use a combination of a high speed vibration tip with water, and hand instruments like a scaler to physically remove the stains.  Water is needed to help cool the high speed tip as it vibrates and removes the stained spots.  A low speed polish may also be used to help smooth the teeth and remove any loose "dark spots."  Minor stains may also be removed by trying an abrasive toothpaste such as whitening toothpaste.

Intrinsic stains are often much harder to treat and remove.  If these stains are a result of food exposure where the teeth have turned "yellow" over time, teeth whitening may help lighten the teeth.

In cases where the intrinsic stains are gray or reddish stains are internal (inside) the teeth, they cannot be removed via a dental cleaning or traditional teeth whitening.  More viable options to address heavily dark or red internal stained teeth include porcelain crowns and veneers or internal bleaching.  Internal bleaching utilizes a high concentration of bleaching solution placed inside the tooth after it has a root canal that allows the tooth to whiten from the inside.

If you have any questions on teeth stains and how to remove the stains from your teeth, be sure to consult your family dentist or dental hygienist.

From the desk of your friendly gentle dentist in Bellevue,

Peter Chien, DMD, MPH
(425) 614-1600