Many people have a tooth that is dark or otherwise discolored even though his or her other teeth are completely healthy. In fact, it is even possible that a perfectly healthy tooth can become discolored. Regardless of the health of the tooth, the color of the tooth can cause significant embarrassment. The good news is that there are many different ways to correct a discolored tooth.
Finding the Cause
Discolored teeth can have a number of causes and it is important to correct any problems before they become worse. Most of the causes of tooth discoloration is due to past events such as taking certain antibiotics in childhood, staining from tobacco or coffee, poor hygiene or past injuries. However, it is important to rule out current problems before they become worse. Failing cosmetic procedures and root problems may also cause discoloration. An x-ray and professional evaluation can typically determine the cause of a discolored tooth.
The first step to correcting a discolored tooth is a basic dental cleaning and examination. A dentist will need to determine if there are any health issues that need addressed before starting any cosmetic treatment. Issues with the teeth, gums and supporting tissue are more important for long term dental health than is a simple discoloration. Once the teeth have been found to be healthy, or any problems corrected, a dentist can begin addressing the discoloration.
A badly discolored tooth may not respond well to at home whitening treatments. This is especially true if the discoloration is due to loss of enamel. However, dental professionals can use stronger whitening products than are variable for home use. A dentist can examine the tooth and determine if it can be whitened and the proper product to use.
There are a number of cosmetic treatment options if whitening is not a good option for a discolored tooth. Two of the most common are dental bonding and dental veneers. In simple terms, bonding is a process that coats the tooth with a resin that hardens after it is on the tooth while dental veneers are a hard material that is shaped to match and tooth and then bonded to the tooth. In general, a veneer takes more time than bonding, but both have their place depending on the circumstances.