Dr. James C. DeFinnis's Dental Blog

Wilkes Barre Family Dentist Dr. James C. DeFinnis

Intrinsic or Extrinsic: Main Types of Tooth Stains

BackMountainDentalCommercial whitening gels and toothpastes are often cited as one of the reasons why many people have stopped going to the dentist for an annual oral exam. While these products certainly have their uses, they’re not sufficient to clean off intrinsic tooth stains.

As the name implies, intrinsic stains or ‘deep stains’ are found within the tooth. They’re normally caused by dental trauma (i.e. physical damage on teeth) and enamel erosion, although they can also be the result of exposure to nicotine, chlorine, and certain medications. Most over-the-counter whitening products don’t penetrate deep into the tooth, which is why many intrinsic stains cases may be addressed only by cosmetic dental treatments like porcelain veneers.

On the other hand, extrinsic stains or ‘surface stains’ are much simpler to treat since they’re found only on the outer layer of the tooth. These stains are usually caused by tobacco use and consumption of dark-pigmented foods like blueberries and tea. In mild cases, over-the-counter whitening gels and toothpastes could work, but an in-office whitening treatment is needed for more severe conditions.

Extrinsic stains typically resemble yellowish or dark blemishes on the tooth, while intrinsic stains look like tiny spots or blotches. Making the distinction between the two is not always easy for the naked and untrained eye, but can be done by a dental professional during a routine oral exam.


September 18, 2014 - Posted by | Back Mountain Dental, Dental Cleaning, General Dentistry | , , ,

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