Discoloration happens due to habits and physiological changes within the tooth.

Classification of discoloration of teeth:

  • Extrinsic discoloration

This occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained by extrinsic stains from coffee, tea, colored soft drinks or foods. Smoking also causes extrinsic stains.

  • Intrinsic discoloration

Intrinsic discoloration happens due to the changes within the tooth structure during tooth development.

Causes include:

  1. Excessive exposure to fluoride during early childhood causes mild to severe fluorosis.

2. The maternal use of tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy and the use of tetracycline antibiotics in children 8 years old or younger cause brown stains on teeth.

3. Traumatic discoloration happens when the blood supply to the tooth cut off during trauma. Your teeth become gradually yellowish then brown and black.

4. Developmental disorders like amelogenesis and dentinogenesis imperfect cause grey, amber or purple discolorations.

  • Age-related discoloration

The enamel that covers the teeth gets wear off with age, which allows the dentin more transparent thereby tooth looks yellowish in color.


  • No special tests are needed. A dentist can diagnose tooth stain by looking at the teeth.
  • If the discoloration happens due to trauma then the dentist may advise going for an x-ray even if you don’t have pain.


  • Extrinsic discoloration can be removed by teeth cleaning and polishing. In-office bleaching and home bleaching also removes the extrinsic stain.
  • Mild fluorosis case can be treated with bleaching whereas moderate to severe fluorosis case-patient have to go for veneers or crowns.
  • For medication-induced tooth discoloration and developmental disorders, veneers and crowns are the best treatment option for esthetic purpose.
  • Traumatic discoloration can be treated with Intra coronal bleaching followed by root canal treatment/crown placement followed by root canal treatment.