There are several causes of tooth stains or discolorations.
On the outer surface of the teeth - foods, drink, tobacco, improper or inadequate brushing and flossing, trauma to the enamel, diseases, age, chemotherapy, some medicines and mouthwashes can effect appearance and health of the enamel. These discolorations can often be removed by regular professional cleanings and good routine home care. When this regular care is well established, professional whitening treatments can significantly whiten teeth in a short period of time. Over-the-counter whitening kits may take a little longer, as they contain a somewhat weaker strength of bleach. Whitening toothpastes assist in minor stain removal, but do not change the color of your teeth much. Another office procedure to treat surface enamel defects or calcium deposits is called microabrasion. This technique involves apply a gel that will prepare the surface before applying a pumice slurry in a prophy polishing cup to briefly buff tiny layers of the enamel until the defect is less visible. This treatment is then rinsed thoroughly and followed by a fluoride treatment and often a prescription remineralizing fluoride toothpaste for home use.
Internal tooth discolorations can occur through natural physical processes, congenital conditions, exposure to fluoride before the age of four years, medications and certain antibiotics (such as tetracyclines) during tooth development, injury to the pulp chamber and root canal filling materials. In some cases an internal bleaching treatment can be performed in the office.
When any of these options are not indicated for your situation, other cosmetic options include veneers or crowns to cover the surface and provide a natural-looking, long-lasting treatment.