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What the colour of your teeth say about you

<p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><img src="/nairobi/PublishingImages/teeth%20discoloration%20body.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></span> </p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">A bright smile backed up by white teeth can leave a lasting impression. The presence of stains on teeth however dwindles one&#39;s appeal. Teeth discoloration is a common occurrence in both adults and children. This happens due to several reasons and may affect the surface of the teeth, or below the enamel (outer part) while some people develop both types of pigments. Here&#39;s what you need to know about your teeth colour.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">Types of teeth discoloration</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">There are three types of teeth stains, extrinsic stain appears on the surface of the teeth, when particles, such as pigmented residue from food, or drink, build up in the film of the protein that covers the enamel. This type of blemish responds well to improved oral hygiene with the help of whitening toothpaste. Common causes are tobacco, wine and regular consumption of coffee, or tea.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The second type of stain is intrinsic which refers to damage below the surface of the teeth. Particles work through the exterior of the tooth and accumulate within the enamel. Excessive fluoride use has also been associated with accelerating the change in colour.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The last type is the age-related teeth stains resulting from exposure of the dentin (inner part) over time due to the wear and tear of the enamel (outer part) causing a yellow appearance. In addition, the combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic tooth discoloration plays a major role.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">Causes of teeth stains</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Some of the main sources of teeth stains are certain frequently consumed drinks such as coffee, tea, colas and wines. Smoking, or chewing tobacco also have a direct impact on the teeth.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Poor dental hygiene through irregular brushing and flossing to remove plaque and blemish-producing substances especially at night. Oral diseases that affect the exterior and interior parts of the teeth may have an effect on the change in colour.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Medications such as head and neck radiation and chemotherapy, mouth washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also dye teeth. Antihistamines, antipsychotic drugs, and other medications used to treat high blood pressure also cause teeth discoloration.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Genetics influence the brightness of teeth depending on the thickness of the enamel as it varies from one individual to another.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Environmental factors such as water containing high levels of fluoride, excessive use of fluoride applications present in toothpaste and supplements regularly ingested can alter the shade of one&#39;s teeth.
</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">Teeth stain colours</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The change in colour helps identify the cause of the stain.
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Yellow is as a result of the white enamel surface of your teeth wearing off leaving the yellow core more visible.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Brown stain appears due to frequent tobacco use, dark beverages like tea or coffee and poor brushing habits.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Black is a sign of tooth decay, or soft pulp disease may turn your teeth grayish, or black. Exposure to minerals like iron, manganese, or silver from any supplements might create a black line on your teeth.
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Purple is mainly due to frequent consumption of red wine that stains the enamel of your teeth.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">Prevention of teeth stains</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Fortunately, a conscious decision can be made to maintain a white pigment. Keep your teeth and gums healthy by maintaining a consistent oral health routine including brushing twice a day and daily flossing, twice-yearly visits to your dentist and limiting your consumption of teeth-staining beverages.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">Treatment options</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">There are several treatment options to consider depending on the type of stain. Different stains necessitate different interventions and it is therefore better guided by your dentist.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">A visit to the dentist will help develop a treatment plan that is dependent on the type and nature of the stain. Professional teeth whitening includes the application of a bleaching agent directly to your teeth. Special lights combined with bleach may also be used to enhance the whitening. Visits to the doctor may be more than one session but a positive outcome is guaranteed. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><em>By Dr Darshna Gandhi, Consultant Dentist at Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi</em>
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><em>This article was first published in Business Daily on October 10, 2022</em></span></p>

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