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On the Dark Side

As we get older, our teeth tend to get darker. This may be the result of extrinsic stains Certain foods and drinks are hazardous to your smile by causing your teeth to darken. These include coffee, tea, grape juice, carrot juice, berries and beets. Hot tea and coffee are especially detrimental, because constant temperature change can cause your teeth to expand and contract, allowing stains to penetrate microcracks in the enamel. There are other causes of discoloration. Teeth with old, large amalgam fillings may darken from the leaching out of silver salts. Sometimes, replacing the amalgam filling with tooth colored materials solves this problem. When an individual tooth darkens, it may be from trauma or because the pulp [nerve] has died. Bleeding within the tooth or debris in the pulp can create a dark gray appearance. Intrinsic stains caused by a systemic interruption of the forming tooth such as a high fever, certain medications or extra high doses of fluoride could result in gray/brown bands or bright white patches from incomplete enamel formation before the tooth erupts. Most extrinsic stains can be removed with a good prophylaxis [cleaning] and polishing. Air abrasion instrumentation is also helpful. This should be followed be an elimination or cutting down of the causative agent. Treatment for discoloration also includes bleaching, bonding and/or porcelain veneers. If stains or tooth darkening are inhibiting your smile, call it to our attention at your next appointment, so we can suggest the appropriate steps to take.

Source: Lighthouse Newsletter

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