Intrinsic Dental Staining: Causes And Treatment

The most common type of dental staining is called extrinsic staining. This refers to tooth stains that are superficial, and typically caused by highly pigmented foods such as coffee, red wine, cherries, and blueberries.

Extrinsic tooth staining can be treated with professional bleaching and laser whitening treatments, however, there is another type of dental staining that is not very amendable to bleaching procedures. This type is known as intrinsic staining, and while both extrinsic stains and intrinsic stains look similar, their causes and treatments differ. Here are some causes of intrinsic staining and some of most effective treatment options.


Intrinsic dental stains differ from extrinsic dental stains in that they are not on the surface of the tooth or caused by dyes in foods. The most common cause of deep, or intrinsic dental stains are maternal antibiotic use.

If your mother had a bacterial infection when she was pregnant with you, and took the antibiotic known as tetracycline to treat the infection, you may have developed a brownish or grey tint to your teeth. This happens when the dentin of the tooth darkens. In addition to maternal exposure to tetracycline, intrinsic tooth stains can also occur as a result of excessive fluoride exposure when you were a child. Another reason for deep dental stains is weak tooth enamel. 


As previously stated, bleaching treatments do little to eliminate intrinsic staining.  If you have this type of tooth staining, your dentist may recommend that you consider porcelain veneers. The veneers, or tooth jackets, will not eliminate the stains, but will cover up the stains or any other dental imperfections such as chips or cracks.

Veneers are natural-looking and can easily match the color of your natural teeth. Another effective method of treating intrinsic tooth stains is dental bonding. Composite resin is matched to the natural color of your teeth, and then after your teeth have been prepared with a special liquid to ensure effective bonding, the composite material is applied to the affected teeth. Like veneers, bonding does not eliminate the stains. It is simply a cosmetic procedure that eliminates the appearance of the stains.

If you have intrinsic tooth stains, make an appointment with your dentist. He or she will examine your teeth and gums, and determine which treatment option is best suited for your individual situation. Even deep, stubborn dental discoloration can be effectively treated with both porcelain veneers and tooth bonding. For more information, contact a dentist such as Aaron G Birch, DDS PC today.