Updated on February 12, 2024
3 min read

How to Deal with Intrinsic Tooth Stains

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Intrinsic stains are deeper than surface stains and harder to eliminate. Rather than a pigmented substance leaching into the enamel, these stains result from changes inside the tooth.

What Causes Intrinsic Stains?

Causes of intrinsic stains include:

  • Tooth injury (dental trauma)
  • Fluorosis (excessive fluoride exposure)
  • Certain medications (tetracycline antibiotics, chemotherapy, anti-histamines)
  • Genetics or certain medical conditions

An injury to a tooth can also cause an extrinsic stain to become intrinsic. Heavily pigmented foods or other substances can pass through fractures in the enamel. 

These intrinsic stains won’t always respond as well to bleaching agents in teeth whitening treatments.

How to Identify Intrinsic Stains

Intrinsic stains occur in the inner layer of the tooth. Compared to extrinsic teeth stains, you can’t remove intrinsic stains through over-the-counter treatments.

Depending on the cause of the stain, they can present as yellow, brown, gray, or white. For instance, an injury can cause the tooth to darken, while fluorosis can cause white or brown spots.

Remember that intrinsic stains usually indicate something wrong within the body. A diagnosis from your dentist can help determine the cause of your intrinsic stains and the best course of treatment. 

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Can Intrinsic Stains Be Prevented?

Preventing intrinsic stains isn’t always guaranteed. Some kinds of intrinsic stains will develop, whether or not you try to prevent them.

You can try the following tips to prevent intrinsic stains:

  • Avoid trauma to the teeth ⁠— Tooth injuries and trauma can lead to internal bleeding, causing the teeth to appear red, black, or purple. Wear mouthguards when participating in activities that can lead to injuries, such as sports. 
  • Maintain regular dental check-ups ⁠— Regular dental checkups help identify and address any potential issues early on.  
  • Moderate fluoride use ⁠— Too much fluoride can result in dental fluorosis, causing intrinsic stains. Always follow fluoride product use as directed by your dentist.
  • Manage your medication ⁠— In cases where your medication causes intrinsic stains, ask your healthcare provider about the possibility of adjusting your prescription. 

Treatment Options for Intrinsic Stains

You can’t treat intrinsic stains with teeth-whitening products like whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, or a teeth-whitening gel. You’ll need a more complex treatment to get rid of intrinsic stains.

Some treatment options for intrinsic stains include:

  • Dental bonding — Dental bonding involves applying a tooth-colored resin to the stained tooth. The resin is then shaped and polished to match the adjacent teeth. 
  • Dental veneers — Dental veneers are thin coverings made from porcelain or composite materials. They’re cemented to the tooth’s front surface for a natural appearance. 
  • Dental crowns — Dental crowns cover the entire tooth. They help restore the tooth’s size, shape, and appearance. 

How to Maintain Results After Intrinsic Stain Treatment

As mentioned earlier, preventing intrinsic teeth stains isn’t always guaranteed. However, there are a few ways to maintain whiter and brighter teeth:

  • Keep up with good dental hygiene
  • Limit staining foods and beverages
  • Quit smoking
  • Continue visiting your dentist regularly
  • Protect your teeth 

Why Is Addressing Intrinsic Stains Important?

Here are some reasons why it’s important to address or treat intrinsic stains:

  • Prevents further damage — Intrinsic stains indicate an internal issue. Addressing intrinsic stains means addressing the issue causing the stain.
  • Aesthetic improvement — When you treat intrinsic stains, it enhances the smile.
  • Better oral health — Addressing intrinsic stains through proper oral health practices and regular dental cleaning can improve oral health.
  • Improves self-confidence — Intrinsic stain treatment leads to better self-confidence because it improves the appearance of your smile.

Summary

Intrinsic stains are a type of tooth stain that affects the tooth’s inner layer. Unlike extrinsic stains, they don’t respond well to traditional whitening treatments. 

Removing intrinsic stains can help improve your overall dental health and self-confidence. It’s best to consult your dentist to learn more about treatments for tooth stains.

Last updated on February 12, 2024
5 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 12, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Nathoo, S.A. “The Chemistry and Mechanisms of Extrinsic and Intrinsic Discoloration.” The Journal of American Dental Association, 2015.
  2. Tabassum, A., Vidyapith, B. “Classification of tooth staining.” Journal of Clinical Dentistry and Oral Health, 2021. 
  3. “Whitening.” American Dental Association. 
  4. “Intrinsic Tooth Staining.” Oxford Reference.
  5. Żyła et al. “Black stain and dental caries: a review of the literature.” Biomed Res Int, 2015. 
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