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3 Types of Teeth Stains: A Complete Guide


Your smile can become stained for many reasons, but did you know there are different types of teeth stains? Not only that, your treatment options may depend on what type of discoloration you have. 

If you’re interested in brightening your smile, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with. Our dental experts in Omaha, NE, break down the types of teeth stains and how they’re treated here. 

What Are the Types of Teeth Stains?

There are three types of teeth stains: extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related discoloration. Teeth discoloration can be the result of one or more types of staining. 

1. Extrinsic Stains

What Are Extrinsic Stains?

Extrinsic stains are a type of teeth discoloration that affects the enamel (or the outermost layer) of a tooth. These stains originate on the surface of teeth, causing discoloration that’s usually yellow or brown.


What Causes Extrinsic Stains?

Extrinsic staining is usually the result of consuming dark-colored foods and beverages, such as: 

  • Beets 

  • Blueberries 

  • Curries

  • Coffee

  • Tea

  • Red wine

  • Dark sodas 

  • Chewing tobacco

Tooth decay can also cause some level of staining or discoloration on the teeth. That said, as a general rule, anything that can stain a white shirt can also cause your teeth to discolor. 

Treatments for Extrinsic Stains

While extrinsic stains aren’t as permanent as intrinsic stains, they don’t typically respond to regular teeth brushing. Additionally, over-the-counter whitening products might not have much effect, as some extrinsic stains can be rather deep-set. 

A few cosmetic treatment options for extrinsic stains include: 

  • Teeth whitening - Professional teeth whitening includes bleaching the discolored tooth enamel, making your smile brighter in just one dentist visit. At Eagle Run West Dental Group, teeth whitening works by applying a hydrogen peroxide varnish followed by a second sealant layer. 

  • Dental bonding - A tooth-colored resin is applied to the teeth, masking imperfections, such as stains or minor chips. Dental bonding is ideal for smaller dental stains. 

In many cases, the best treatment for extrinsic stains is teeth whitening services. The professional-grade bleaching agents used at our dentist office in Omaha, NE, minimize stains and improve tooth color for a noticeably whiter smile. And since the procedure is performed by a trained dentist, there’s no risk of hypersensitivity or gum irritation. 

Most patients can expect results for about a year. However, how long teeth whitening lasts also depends on the patient’s lifestyle and age. 

If a patient has extrinsic stains as well as aesthetic issues, they may be better suited for dental bonding or porcelain veneers, which can mend a range of cosmetic flaws with a single application. 

2. Intrinsic Stains 

What Are Intrinsic Stains?

Intrinsic stains mean tooth discoloration exists on the dentin, or the interior layer of the teeth. 

Although dentin is below the tooth enamel, darkened dentin can give the teeth a discolored appearance. This discoloration can be yellow or brown, or it may also be gray or white. 

Intrinsic staining is more permanent and, in many cases, harder to treat than extrinsic stains. 


What Causes Intrinsic Stains?

Intrinsic stains have a variety of different causes, including: 

  • Tooth injury

  • Certain types of medications

  • Overexposure to fluoride

  • Medical conditions

  • Genetics

Generally, intrinsic stains are much harder to remove than extrinsic stains because they come from within. Our dentists will diagnose the cause of your intrinsic stains before recommending the best course of treatment. 

Treatments for Intrinsic Stains

Since teeth whitening targets the outer layers of the teeth, intrinsic stains might not respond as well to treatment as extrinsic stains. Instead, other treatments options may be advised, including: 

  • Dental crowns - If tooth injury is the suspected cause of intrinsic stains, dental crowns may be ideal. A dental crown will improve the appearance of staining while also protecting the tooth from further damage or infection.

  • Dental implants - Patients with worn enamel or missing teeth may be a candidate for dental implants. Implants are a great long-term solution for patients with cosmetic issues. Plus, they help preserve your overall bone health. 

  • Porcelain veneers - Porcelain or plastic coverings are placed over top of the teeth, concealing a discolored or misshapen smile. Veneers can address the most severe intrinsic stains. 

3. Age-Related Stains

What Are Age-Related Stains?

Most of the time, age-related stains are a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic stains. As you age, your dentin changes color, becoming darker and yellower. Our enamel also thins as we get older, allowing the dentin to show through. 

Along with certain lifestyle habits, these factors cause most adults' teeth to discolor with age. 


What Causes Age-Related Stains?

First, your teeth become thinner over time, revealing the yellow color of the dentin. The dentin or your teeth’s inner tissue, also darkens with age. 

Additionally, years of consuming dark-colored foods and beverages can cause gradual stains over time. Lastly, damage to the teeth, which naturally occurs throughout your life, creates discoloration that becomes more noticeable with age. 

How to Remove Teeth Stains

Removing teeth stains depends on the type of discoloration and the whitening options available to you.

Our dentists in Omaha, NE, recommend keeping a consistent oral health routine, including twice-daily brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist every six months. Regular maintenance may help remove stains while protecting your smile. 

Generally speaking, the most effective way to remove teeth stains is with professional whitening. If you’re a candidate, in-office teeth whitening is a safe, effective way to whiten most stains and boost your confidence. 

Professional Teeth Whitening Services in Omaha, NE

Regardless of what type of teeth stains you have, Eagle Run West Dental Group provides safe, cosmetic dentistry procedures in Omaha, NE. Call 402-498-8804 or contact us today to find out what your options are! 

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