Tooth Discolouration

tooth discolouration mouth spa blog


Your teeth can become discoloured by stains on the surface or by changes inside the tooth. There are 3 main classes of tooth discolouration. There are extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related.


This occurs when the outer layer of the tooth is stained with substances like coffee, wine, kola and nicotine from tobacco.


This is when the inner structure of the tooth (dentine) darkens. You can get this type of discoloration if;

  • You had too much exposure to fluoride during childhood.
  • Your mother used tetracycline antibiotics during 2nd trimester
  • You used tetracycline when you were 8yrs or under
  • You had trauma in a permanent tooth and internal bleeding discolored the teeth
  • You were born with a rare condition called Dentinogenesis Imperfecta. This causes grey, amber or purple discoloration.


This is a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Dentine naturally yellows over time. The enamel that covers the dentine gets thinner with age, which allows the dentine to show through.


Tetracycline stain is a very common problem in Nigeria. Tetracycline is an antibiotic used to combat bacterial infections. Pregnant women are not supposed to use tetracycline and when ingested during pregnancy it affects the unborn child’s teeth. During development (in-utero), the drug becomes calcified in the tooth. Generally, children are susceptible to tetracycline tooth stains from the time they are in-utero (in the womb) on till the age of 8. Since teeth start to develop before we are born, pregnant women should not take tetracycline to prevent the drug from affecting the teeth.

Tetracycline stains appear as a pattern of horizontal stripes. Tetracycline stains are obvious and permanent, often causing embarrassment and low esteem.

Many extrinsic stains caused by food and drink can be removed by regular professional cleaning and home care (brushing, flossing and rinsing after meals). The whitening is another way of brightening up your teeth although teeth whitening does not take care of severe tetracycline stains other treatments like veneers and crown are used for tetracycline stains.

Tooth discoloration is mainly a cosmetic problem. Visit your friendly dentist Mouth Spa or book an appointment if you are unhappy with how your teeth look.


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