The chemistry and mechanisms of extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration

J Am Dent Assoc. 1997 Apr:128 Suppl:6S-10S. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.1997.0428.


The literature on the methods of removing dental stain and whitening teeth is extensive. By comparison, little has been published on the chemical mechanisms that cause dental discolorations. This article proposes a classification for extrinsic dental stain and describes the chemical mechanisms involved in causing tooth discolorations. It also discusses the current theories of the chemistry of stain removal processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Deposits / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Ion Exchange
  • Pigments, Biological / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / metabolism
  • Tooth Discoloration / classification*
  • Tooth Discoloration / metabolism*
  • Tooth Discoloration / therapy


  • Pigments, Biological
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides