Our teeth are discolored due to an interaction of factors in the developmental stage, genetics and lifestyle habits, age and hygiene.
Over time if dental care is neglected, discoloration touches a deeper level of enamel and dentin. In such severe cases of discoloration, in-office routine cleaning will not be of much help.
Deep discoloration is treated in–office or at home chemically using peroxide.
Mechanically, in – office treatments such as microabrasion, dental veneers and composite bonding are available options. The dentist accordingly recommends procedures depending upon the severity and extent of discoloration and damage.
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Deep Enamel Discoloration Treatments
The technique and products used vary according to the treatment. Treatment is suggested to suit individual needs of budget, desired outcome, extent of damage etc.
The following treatments are options to treat deep discoloration.
Teeth bleaching or whitening uses hyrdrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to treat stains and discoloration. During a one hour chair-side bleaching procedure, a dental dam is placed over the gums before applying 25 % hydrogen peroxide. Laser or heat may or may not be used to augment the treatment.
At home, tray bleaching uses a lower strength of peroxide and trays that could be custom made. The procedure typically involves wearing these gel-based trays for 15-20 minutes a day (depending on the strength of the chemical) for a period of two weeks.
- In–office and tray bleaching work well on mild cases of discoloration due to trauma, tetracycline and other external factors such as diet and habits.
- Bleaching results are visible 1 to 2 days after treatment.
- Bleaching might cause mild gingival irritation which usually back to normal within 48-72 hours
- It also causes sensitivity that usually subsides in 10 – 14 days after treatment.
- Tray based whitening treatments are performed without supervision of a dental professional and can cause mishaps on not being well versed with the technique.
The success of both procedures depends on after care measures and require a yearly touch-up.
Enamel microabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure that can treat deep enamel discoloration and damage. It is mostly a choice for fluorosis stains and ones caused by trauma, developmental factors, caries and dental fixtures.
Microabrasion works with a slurry of hydrochloric acid and pumice, rubbed onto the surface of the tooth every 30 to 40 seconds until stains are chafed away. A dental dam is used during the treatment to protect the gums.
- Microabrasion is a non-invasive cost-effective procedure.
- It preserves teeth enamel to effectively remove stains.
- Microabrasion erodes stains and a thin layer of enamel. This could make the teeth appear yellow, needing an additional whitening treatment.
- Post treatment sensitivity exists until the teeth remineralize.
3. Composite bonding
Composite bonding or composite veneers cover stains in teeth with plastic resins fixed to the enamel. The resin is similar to dentin and its characteristics range in color and translucencies.
The procedure involves a light erosion of enamel to apply the composite, made beforehand to suit the patient’s preferences. The composite resin mix is then attached to the enamel in layers with glue, into strong bond.
- Composite bonding works to imitate natural teeth using detail and accuracy of color charts in a minimally invasive procedure.
- It is a cost-effective procedure to protect teeth from other external factors.
- It is painless and completed within an hour in one office visit.
- It is a reversible short-term solution, as underlying tooth structure remains intact.
- Post- treatment sensitivity might occur for around 2 weeks, which subsides on it’s own.
- It demands staying away from extra crunchy and acidic foods that could damage the composites.
- Composites can also stain and being non – porous is hard to whiten.
4. Veneer bonding
Veneer bonding is a resilient treatment that uses thin sheets of transparent porcelain. These sheets are bound to teeth to mask severe discoloration and address other dental problems like aligning teeth and filling gaps.
At the first visit, enamel is scraped off and prepped for fixing the veneers. The dentist takes an impression of the teeth to make the veneers, which takes about 2 weeks.
In the 2 weeks a set of temporary veneers are fitted on to the teeth. The final step consists of bonding the custom made veneers onto the enamel.
- Veneers are a long lasting solution with good esthetic results.
- They are more natural looking and stain resistant.
- As tooth enamel is removed, it could cause sensitivity and place limitations on the intake of certain kinds of foods.
- Post treatment, discoloration and stains develop due to the presence of moisture while sealing in the veneers, which cannot be rectified.
- Sometimes its difficult to floss as veneers might have rough, protruding edges that would oral hygiene problematic resulting in gingival problems.
Enamel discoloration can be treated with minimal expense and discomfort, if adequate care and timely visits to the dentist are followed.
The results of treatment are then reliant on diligent dental hygiene, maintenance necessities and subsequent visits to the dentist.