Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration: Causes And How To Identify It

Dentist Blog

If you have tried bleaching your teeth to no avail, then you are probably dealing with intrinsic dental staining. Intrinsic teeth discoloration originates from the inside of the tooth, which means you cannot get rid of it by just whitening the enamel (outer layer of the tooth). Here are the causes of intrinsic discoloration:

Dental Restorations

Some dental restorations, especially metallic ones, may corrode and appear as discolorations from the inside of the tooth. A good example is an amalgam (an alloy of silver and other metals) filling, which tarnishes over time.


Drugs can stain your teeth both extrinsically and intrinsically. For example, prolonged use of colored drugs can stain the enamel. However, serious staining occurs when the drug enters the bloodstream and interacts with the compounds that form part of your tooth. A good example is tetracycline, which incorporates itself into the dental tissues, interact with calcium ions, and calcify (harden).

Dental Injuries

Dental injuries may also lead to intrinsic staining. When you experience dental trauma--for example, if you fall and hit your teeth--it may experience tiny cracks and tissue injuries even if it doesn't fall off. Over time, the damaged tissues may die and change their color. There is also the issue of dried blood; all of these things will show through your enamel as stains.

Determining Intrinsic Staining From Extrinsic

According to, there are several ways of gauging whether your teeth discoloration is intrinsic or extrinsic. Here are some of the tips to guide you:

  • Color – Extrinsic teeth discoloration tend to be of many different colors including black, gray, orange, green and many others; however, intrinsic discoloration tends the be red or pink.
  • The number of affected teeth – Discoloration of a single tooth is likely to be intrinsic. Substances that stain tooth enamel tend to attack multiple teeth. For example, habitual drinking of coffee or tea will stain most--if not all--of your teeth. Something like trauma, for instance, can easily affect a single tooth.
  • Triggering factor – you may be able to discern the type of discoloration you have if you can remember when and how it began. For example, you are probably dealing with intrinsic staining if you have had white teeth all along, but then they become discolored after experiencing a nasty knock to your teeth.

As hinted in the introduction, extrinsic dental discoloration doesn't respond well to bleaching that only affects the outside of the teeth. Thus, it's best to get a diagnostic of your dental stains before trying at-home bleaching products. That way you don't waste resources on processes that won't whiten your teeth. Click here for more information on cosmetic dentistry.


24 January 2016

Give Yourself the Gift of a Beautiful Smile

If you are someone who hesitates to open your mouth when you smile because you are embarrassed about your teeth, you should know that there are a number of cosmetic techniques that can give you a beautiful smile you will be proud to show to the world. As a cosmetic dentist, I have seen many clients transform their lives simply by fixing their smiles. This blog is meant to encourage people to find out about the possibilities in cosmetic dentistry so they can feel good about their smiles. A beautiful, confident smile really can change your life. I would love to show you how.