Some Tooth Color Science from Your Raleigh Dentist

When your hands get dirty, you just wash them and they return to their original appearance. Have you ever wondered why the same isn’t true for your teeth? It’s true that daily brushing, combined with regular cleanings at your Raleigh dentist office, is enough to keep your teeth fairly clean. But we are all familiar, either by personal experience or by observing someone close to us, with the long-term effects of tooth discoloration. Cosmetic dentistry in Raleigh, NC can reverse those effects, but you might have wondered exactly why our teeth are vulnerable to such deep staining in the first place. Here’s a little of the science behind that fact, and how your Raleigh dentist helps you fight against it.

Enamel and Dentin

When a friend smiles at you and you marvel at their beautiful white teeth, what you’re primarily seeing is the enamel that forms the external layer of a tooth. Underneath that hard enamel layer is the dentin, which forms the bulk of the tooth itself. Dentin is not white like enamel, but rather a yellowish-brown color. Because the enamel layer is not only white but also slightly transparent, some of that yellowish-brown color is always visible, tinting the enamel layer to our eyes. That’s the main reason that most teeth don’t appear perfectly white, even when they are very healthy.

While the enamel on our teeth is very strong, it does become thinner with age. This is a primary cause of age-related tooth discoloration, as the yellowish-brown dentin becomes more visible through the thinning enamel layer.


By far the most common and preventable cause of tooth discoloration is staining. The chemical compounds in certain products, most notably tobacco, coffee, soda, and other colored beverages, react with the tooth’s enamel and create a stain that is very difficult to remove. It is possible to prevent staining by brushing the teeth shortly after enjoying coffee or soda, but this doesn’t fit very well into the typical busy schedules of most people! At some point, many adults suffer some amount of long-term tooth staining due to the beverages and foods that they’ve been enjoying their entire life. Fortunately, your Raleigh dentist has a number of cosmetic dentistry tools at his disposal to help you reverse that staining and get your beautiful white teeth back.

Teeth Whitening Options

Teeth whitening options range from simple DIY kits to highly specialized procedures conducted by your Raleigh dentist in his office. The best course of action, no matter what teeth whitening method you settle on, is to have a discussion with your dentist and have him involved in the process. Based on his knowledge of your teeth and the root causes of their discoloration, your dentist is in the best position to recommend the safest and most effective teeth whitening method. If you can get the results you want with a safe at-home solution, your dentist will direct you toward the best option. If, on the other hand, the staining can only be removed using specialized technology, you’ll avoid the frustration of trying numerous products yourself, only to be disappointed by a lack of results. With a few short visits, you’ll again have the beautiful, healthy, white smile that you’ve been missing.

Other Discoloration Factors

Tooth staining is a relatively minor problem compared with other oral health issues. Many of those other issues, including cavities, injury, fluorosis (excessive exposure to the element fluoride), and injury to the teeth, actually cause discoloration in addition to the underlying primary problem. Even some antibiotics have the side effect of discoloring the teeth at a deep level. If you suffer from one of these issues, it is important to have your Raleigh dentist conduct a complete examination and help you restore not only the appearance, but more importantly, the overall health of your teeth and gums.

Don’t ignore oral health indicators like discoloration and discomfort! These seemingly minor problems are usually signs that there are more serious issues lurking behind that tough layer of enamel that covers each of your teeth. Use our convenient appointment request form to set up your first visit today and meet Dr. Eric Ladimer, your Raleigh dentist, and his expert team.

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