When you flash a smile and see yellow or brown teeth looking back at you, do you think that your teeth are stained? It might surprise you to learn that many people who think they have stained teeth actually have damaged teeth. Here's how the two can be mistaken and what you should do if you think your teeth might be damaged.
Tooth staining is a legitimate thing that can happen to your dental enamel. Enamel is fairly porous, so it has a tendency to be easily dyed by substances like the tannins found in tea and coffee. When this happens, the enamel effectively becomes tinted yellow, brown, or another shade, but isn't actually damaged. If enough time passed without you consuming whatever stained your teeth and you continued to clean them, your teeth would eventually lose the tint and return to their normal, healthy color.
Enamel damage can happen in a wide variety of ways, but however it happens, it can make you think your teeth are stained.
You see, the enamel of your teeth is the exterior layer and the one that makes your teeth look white or cream-colored. When enamel is broken down and lost, other layers of the teeth become visible. The underlying layers of the teeth aren't white, so it can make your entire tooth look discolored and stained, even if your enamel has only thinned out and isn't fully destroyed.
Telling the Difference
If you have damaged teeth, chances are you have other symptoms, too. You may have sensitivity or pain when drinking or eating hot or cold things, for example. Toothaches are also common, and even brushing your teeth may be uncomfortable. If any of these sound like you, chances are enamel damage is the real culprit behind your tooth color.
What to Do
If you think that you have enamel damage, you definitely shouldn't use an at-home whitening product. These products are intended to help polish away stains from the enamel. However, if your enamel is weak or missing, these products could hurt the more sensitive layers of your tooth that are now exposed.
Instead, go to a dentist. If your enamel has been severely damaged, your dentist will repair that damage first and then will go about making your teeth look as white and perfect as you want. If your enamel is still in good shape, you can still enjoy teeth whitening from a professional that won't harm your teeth or gums.
Having your teeth whitened — or your enamel fixed — is something a cosmetic dentist can help you with. Get in touch with one and get the smile you want once and for all.