Dental discoloration: an overview

J Esthet Dent. 1999;11(6):291-310. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8240.1999.tb00413.x.


Often the first evidence of variation from normal in human dentition is an observable difference in the color of the teeth. During the past decade, the demand for conservative esthetic dentistry has grown dramatically. Tooth discoloration is a frequent dental finding, associated with clinical and esthetic problems. It differs in etiology, appearance, composition, location, severity, and firmness in adherence to the tooth surface. Basically, there are two types of tooth discolorations: those caused by extrinsic factors and those caused by intrinsic congenital or systemic influence. The intensity of stains may be worsened if there are enamel defects. Tooth discoloration presents two major challenges to the dental team. The first challenge is to ascertain the cause of the stain; the second is its management.

Clinical significance: This article reviews the etiology and clinical presentation of dental stains and outlines treatment options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Tooth Bleaching / methods
  • Tooth Discoloration* / diagnosis
  • Tooth Discoloration* / etiology
  • Tooth Discoloration* / therapy