How And Why Do Teeth Discolour?

As our teeth start to stain and discolour, we can become very self conscious. Read this post to understand the causes and what you could do to prevent it worsening.

Intrinsic Staining

Intrinsic staining is discolouration that is incorporated into a tooth, either whilst it is developing or after it has erupted. The success of tooth whitening depends largely on the type of staining.


Some of the main causes of intrinsic staining are excessive fluoride intake over the period that the tooth develops. The resulting fluorosis presents itself as either white and chalky enamel or brown staining. Bleaching can be used in most cases to reduce the contrast of the enamel and improve the appearance.


Another major cause of intrinsic staining is the use of certain antibiotics, including tetracycline and minocycline. These cause a blue-grey banding on the teeth. The severity of staining will depend on the type and the duration of use. Prolonged whitening is usually required in these cases.


The most common cause of intrinsic staining is trauma which can make the tooth turn black. This type of staining responds well to prolonged whitening.

Family History

Other common causes of intrinsic staining are hereditary. Imperfections in the formation of the enamel or dentine can cause discolouration. Diseases like amelogenesis and dentinogenesis are examples of hereditary diseases that cause intrinsic staining.


Age also causes intrinsic discolouration due to the change in the physical composition of the teeth. Overtime, layers of enamel are lost, exposing the darker underlying dentine.

Extrinsic Staining

Extrinsic staining is far more common. It only affects the surface of the teeth. It is mostly caused by the interaction of food and drink pigments with plaque that covers the enamel. This can easily be removed by dental polishing. When this type of staining moves past the cracks in the teeth, it can’t be removed by tooth-brushing. In this case, whitening is required.

If you are interested in whitening please click here for more information or call us on 01723 670500.

Tooth Whitening And The Law The European Directive

The laws on tooth whitening changed on 31 October 2012. The legislation in regards to tooth whitening by the European Union shows a clear difference between the products that can be legally used for tooth whitening by dental professionals, and products that can be used by non-dental professionals.

The change follows a move in 2013 to revoke and replace the Cosmetic Products Regulations 2012, with the Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013, commonly known as the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

For Each Cycle Of Use, First Use By A Dental Practitioner

There is a possibility that a patient that has not had the appropriate instruction on how to use their home kit could be at risk of swallowing excess whitening gel. The requirement that the first use of each cycle is done by a dentist, or under their supervision, will help to prevent this. This also means that whitening kits can’t be sold to patients at reception or through the post.

Hygienists And Therapists

The General Dental Council’s Scope Of Practice sets out the roles that each dental professional can carry out. It sets out that hygienists and therapists can provide tooth whitening under the prescription of a dentist, if they are trained and competent.

It is advisable that the dentist is on the premises when the first use of of the product is provided to the patient.

Patients Under 18

The Regulations and EU Directive state that the product must not be used on patients under 18. This can create an ethical dilemma for dentists who may want to act in the best interest of their patients but are prohibited from doing so by the Regulations.

Breach Of The Regulations

The maximum penalty for breaching the Regulations is a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.

7 Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canal Treatment

Having a root canal treatment can sound frightening but understanding what the procedure involves can help to calm your nerves.

1. What Is Root Canal Treatment?

A root canal treatment is a procedure to save a tooth that has become decayed. The infected tissue, known as the pulp, that surrounds the nerves is cleaned out so that there is no further damage to your tooth.

2. Why Is A Root Canal Needed?

The area where the nerve is located is in a narrow passage called the root canal. When it becomes infected, it can cause severe pain. The infection can also spread to other parts of the body.

3. What Happens If I Don’t Have The Procedure?

If your dentist recommends that you have a root canal, but you refuse, you may lose the tooth. The decay and infection are likely to spread and may even cause further decay on other teeth.

Once tooth infection begins to spread, it can travel to other areas in your body. This is why it is important that t is treated straight away.

4. How Long Does The Procedure Take?

Depending on the amount of infection in your tooth, root canal therapy may require one or two appointments. On average, the procedure will take 30 to 60 minutes. If the treatment is on a tooth with multiple roots, it could take up to an hour and a half.

5. What Is The Expected Recovery Process?

After your treatment, you may experience some minor swelling and discomfort. However this should ease after the first 24 hours. Your dentist may send you home with some medications, such as antibiotics and painkillers.

After your appointment, your dentist may schedule a follow-up appointment. If you don’t suffer any complications, you will not need to return until then.

After the procedure, ou will be given a care package that will contain all of the information you will require about any complications.

6. Is The Procedure Painful?

The treatment is no more painful than having a normal filling. The root canal will also help to relieve the pain that the infected tooth has been causing. The area will be numbed during the treatment so you should experience a pain-free procedure.

7. What Are The Alternatives To A Root Canal?

The only way to save a tooth with infected pulp is to remove the pulp through root canal. Fillings and cleaning won’t address the problem. Therefore, the only alternative would be to extract the tooth to prevent the spread of the infection to other teeth. To maintain the mouths function of speech and eating, the tooth would need to be replaced with an implant, bridge or partial denture. Extraction would be a last resort.

If you are in pain, contact our practice on 01723 670500 for advice.

What Are The Most Common Dental Issues And How To Prevent Them? Continued.

Following on from the previous post, here are some more common dental problems that people suffer with and how to treat them.

Cracked Or Broken Teeth

Teeth can crack for many reasons such as:

  • Pressure from grinding your teeth.
  • Large fillings that have weakened the tooth.
  • Chewing or biting hard foods such as ice, nuts, or boiled sweets.
  • Injury.
  • Age.

Treatment depends on the size of the crack, where it is, and your symptoms. Your dentist may recommend one of the following:

  • Bonding: Using a plastic resin to fill the crack.
  • Crown: A dental crown is a cap placed over the damaged tooth.
  • Root canal: When a crack is so large that it extends into your pulp, your dentist may recommend a root canal to remove the damaged pulp. This will help to prevent the tooth from becoming weaker.
  • Extraction: If the tooth, and the nerves below it are so damaged, the only option may be to remove it.
  • No treatment: If the cracked tooth isn’t affecting your appearance and isn’t causing any pain, your dentist may advise leaving it alone.

Receding Gums

Receding gums are a condition in which your gums pull back from your teeth, exposing the root surfaces. They can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Aggressive brushing over a long period of time.
  • Build up of hardened plaque.
  • Smoking.
  • Family history of gum disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • HIV.

One of the best ways to prevent receding gums is to visit your dentist regularly. Even if you don’t notice any symptoms, a dentist will be able to see the early signs of gum disease. You can also help to prevent gum problems by practicing good oral hygiene, by brushing twice daily and flossing once a day.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth happens when the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva. This causes a dry feeling in your mouth. It can also cause bad breath, dry throat and cracked lips.

The causes include:

  • Dehydration: This can be caused by not drinking enough water, vomiting, or sweating. When you’re dehydrated your mouth produces less saliva.
  • Medications: Dry mouth could be a side effect of certain medications, including those that treat anxiety, depression, diarrhoea, high blood pressure and asthma. It is important that you don’t stop taking these medications until you have spoken to your doctor.
  • Radiation therapy: Dry mouth is a common side effect of radiation to the head and neck. Radiation causes damage to the salivary glands causing them to produce less saliva.
  • Stress: When you’re anxious, your body makes more cortisol which changes the composition of your saliva.
  • Snoring and mouth breathing: Breathing through your mouth causes saliva to evaporate.
  • Smoking: Smoking can reduce the production of tobacco.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is often stress related. It can be caused by:

  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Sleeping problems like snoring and sleep apnoea.
  • Taking certain medications.
  • Smoking, drinking lots of alcohol and caffeine.

To prevent teeth grinding:

  • Find ways to relax. Try breathing exercises or doing something that you enjoy like listening to music or doing exercise.
  • Try to improve your sleep by developing a routine of going to bed at the same time every night.
  • Have regular dental check-ups.
  • Ask your dentist if they think a nightguard would help.