Over the past two years, I began to get brown stains on my teeth that are increasing. I see my dentist twice yearly, and she notices the stains, too. My dentist recommends whitening my teeth, but neither of us knows what is causing the stains. My dentist says the source is probably not serious because I am in my 50s, and the stains are just developing. I asked my primary care doctor about the stains, and he told me to check with my dentist first. I feel like I am stuck in a loop. Yesterday, a friend mentioned that I could research dental bonding if whitening does not work. Should I let my dentist whiten my teeth or get a second opinion? Thank you. Omari from CT
Thank you for your question.
We are unsure why your dentist has not tried to identify the cause of the stains and recommend treatment. But you can ask her what might be causing the stains to understand why she recommends whitening your teeth.
Types of Tooth Stains that Develop in Adults
When stains develop during adulthood, they are either internal or external stains.
- Internal stains – Internal stains can form as your teeth absorb pigments from foods and drinks, such as tea or coffee. Internal stains are even in appearance and affect the entire teeth, and bleaching can break them down. Some prescription medications can cause external stains, too.
- External stains – External stains appear around your gumline and between your teeth. Some toothpaste brands, such as Supersmile, remove the sticky film (protein pellicle) from your teeth and stains that stick to it. Also, Supersmile toothpaste works because it removes the protein pellicle on your teeth and the stains that adhere to it. Your dental hygienist can remove surface stains.
Identifying the Cause of Tooth Stains
Sometimes a health condition or medication can cause discoloration in teeth. Ask your dentist to review your medical and prescription histories. If neither health nor medication is a factor, your dentist’s recommendation makes sense.
Will You Need Teeth Bleaching or Dental Bonding?
Whether a dentist uses teeth bleaching or dental bonding depends on the cause of the tooth stains. If your teeth stains come from coffee or tea, whitening from your dentist will break them down. Dental bonding is usually not necessary unless internal tooth stains develop from medication, fluorosis, or a medical condition.
Teeth whitening from a dentist is safe and can help your smile look younger. If your dentist is not willing to identify the cause of the stains, you can look for a dentist with cosmetic dentistry training to help you.
Lowell, Massachusetts, accredited cosmetic dentist, Dr. Michael Szarek, sponsors this post. His office is convenient to Andover, Dracut, Chelmsford, Tewksbury, and surrounding cities.