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Lighten Up! By That, We Mean Your Teeth

By Jill Hamilton on June 25, 2013 in Dental Health

Man smiling and looking off into the distance

There are lots of good things about growing older, but sparkling white teeth isn't one of them.

As we age, our teeth are introduced to external influences, trauma and even things you wouldn't expect to cause tooth discoloration, like medications.

Read on for the 4 main factors that cause your teeth to look more like a grey grin than a sparkling smirk.

• Certain foods, drinks and habits, like smoking can darken your teeth. Coffee, tea, grape juice, red wine, carrot juice, berries and beets all contribute to darker teeth. Hot tea and coffee are particularly hard on your teeth. Temperature change by consuming hot drinks can cause your teeth to expand and contract, allowing stains to penetrate micro-cracks in the enamel.

• Old, large amalgam fillings can release silver salts into the tooth from the filling also causing a tooth to darken.

• Trauma to a tooth, or a pulp (nerve) that has died, can cause an individual tooth to darken. Bleeding within the tooth or debris in the pulp also can create a dark, gray look.

• Some stains are caused by a systemic interruption during the formation of the tooth and may result in gray or brown bands, or bright white patches from incomplete enamel formation before the tooth erupts. These can be caused by a high fever, certain medications or extra high doses of fluoride.

Most stains can be removed with a good cleaning and polishing. Other treatments for discoloration include bleaching, bonding and/or porcelain veneers. If stains or tooth darkening are inhibiting your smile, talk to your dentist.