Intrinsic and Extrinsic Tooth Stains

When you look at your teeth you may think you are seeing the color of your enamel, and you are. Your tooth color, however, is a combination of your enamel, which is semi-translucent, and the color of your dentin. So if you thought your teeth were looking a bit shabby and you decided to whiten them thinking it was the enamel that was stained, but whitening didn’t change much, it is probably your dentin that is stained. That’s because there are intrinsic and extrinsic tooth stains. Today, your Lake Forest Dentist, Dr. Fondriest, defines the difference for you.

The Difference Between Stains

Extrinsic Tooth Stains

Extrinsic tooth stains are stains that are on the external surface of your teeth. They are stains that remain on your enamel. Such stains include stains from foods, and beverages such as coffee, tobacco, and the buildup of plaque and tartar which can discolor your teeth. Professional dental whitening or over-the-counter whiteners can work nicely on extrinsic tooth stains.

Intrinsic Tooth Stains

Intrinsic stains are internal stains. This means that the actual dentin of your dark tooth (the tooth behind the enamel) was discolored as your teeth were developing. Intrinsic stains are caused by:

  • Fluorosis: Over exposure to fluoride during early childhood.
  • Tetracycline Antibiotics: Your mother was prescribed tetracycline during the second half of her pregnancy while you were in utero.
    • You were prescribed tetracycline at the age of 8 or younger.

While extrinsic tooth stains respond well to whitening techniques, to correct intrinsic stains a cosmetic procedure such as bonding or porcelain veneers is required.

About Your Lake Forest Dentist:

Aside from providing dependable general and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.