An overview of tooth discoloration: extrinsic, intrinsic and internalized stains

Dent Update. 2005 Oct;32(8):463-4, 466-8, 471. doi: 10.12968/denu.2005.32.8.463.


The causes of tooth discoloration are varied and complex but are usually classified as being either intrinsic, extrinsic or internalized in nature. Dietary chromogens and other external elements deposit on the tooth surface or within the pellicle layer either directly or indirectly to form extrinsic discoloration. Stains within the dentine or intrinsic discoloration often results from systemic or pulpal origin, while internalized stains are the result of extrinsic stains entering the dentine via tooth defects such as cracks on the tooth surface.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Amelogenesis Imperfecta / complications
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Dentinogenesis Imperfecta / complications
  • Fluorosis, Dental / complications
  • Humans
  • Tetracycline / adverse effects
  • Tooth Demineralization / complications
  • Tooth Discoloration / classification
  • Tooth Discoloration / etiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Tetracycline