If you are looking to brighten up your smile so you don’t have to cover your mouth anymore, at Alabama Smile Design, we have many different options available. Stained teeth occur for many reasons, including your food and drink choices, oral hygiene, and medication use. Teeth stains occur on the surface of the tooth or below the tooth enamel and some people develop both types of stains.


There are three main types of tooth discoloration:

  • Extrinsic: Occurs when the outer layer of the tooth is stained. Usually from coffee, wine, cola or other drinks or foods or smoking.
  • Intrinsic: Occurs when the inner structure of the tooth darkens or gets a yellow tint. This type of discoloration can be caused by:
  1. Tetracycline antibiotics
  2. Childhood trauma that affected a tooth 
  3. Trauma in a permanent tooth, and internal bleeding discolored the tooth.
  4. You were born with a rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta. This causes gray, amber or purple discolorations.
  • Age-Related: A combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Dentin naturally yellows over time. Enamel gets thinner with age, allowing the dentin to show through. 


Many extrinsic stains can be removed by regular professional cleanings and good oral home care. 

Discoloration often can be removed by applying a bleaching agent to the tooth enamel. We use ZOOM! Whitening in office which can have dramatic impact on tooth color; significantly whiter in just under one hour. 

It’s also possible to remove discoloration with a bleaching gel designed for use at home. It isn’t as strong as ZOOM!, which means it may take longer to see your desired results — usually two to four weeks.

Bleaching will not lighten some stains, such as tetracycline stains. The color of that dark tooth is coming from within the core of the tooth, which is why traditional whitening methods fail. When you have very dark teeth with gray, brown or reddish undertones, the gold standard is to apply a porcelain veneer to the affected tooth.  When placing veneers Dr. O’Donnell isn’t limited to how white he can go based on deep stains.