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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration

Discolored teeth can affect your smile and make you feel less confident. When you feel less confident, it can affect how you feel in both professional and social situations, as many people view a person with stained teeth as less attractive and less healthy than people with brighter smiles. Discover what’s causing the staining and how a dentist can help you get your bright smile back.

Why Do Teeth Become Discolored?

Aging is a primary reason for tooth discoloration. As we get older, the enamel wears away, exposing the yellow dentin that makes up the middle layer of teeth. Genetics plays a role in this, as some lucky people are born with stronger tooth enamel and others are not. Otherwise, tooth staining is divided into intrinsic stains, which are inside the tooth, and extrinsic stains, which are stains to the tooth’s enamel.

Intrinsic stains are often beyond people’s control. They can occur when a tooth suffers trauma, especially at an early age. Certain medications, like antipsychotic drugs and antihistamines, can cause discoloration. Treatments like chemotherapy for head and neck cancers can also discolor teeth. Dentists often recommend veneers or crowns to cover the stains as they won’t respond to traditional teeth whitening treatments.

The pigments in certain dark foods and beverages cause extrinsic staining. Poor dental hygiene can contribute to yellow teeth. Tobacco use will cause yellow or brownish staining.

Do Certain Foods Stain Teeth?

Foods that stain your teeth are typically the same foods and beverages that can stain light-colored clothing and carpeting. The stains will be more noticeable or pronounced if you drink or eat these beverages and foods regularly without practicing proper oral health care. Some foods most likely to cause staining include:

  • Coffee, tea and sodas
  • Red wine and dark-colored juices such as grape juice, cranberry juice and others
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Blueberries, cherries and blackberries,
  • Curry
  • Beets

What Are the Foods That Will Keep Your Teeth White?

Several foods act as natural teeth whiteners, including:
Strawberries – They contain malic acid, a natural astringent.
Sunflower seeds, cashews and walnuts act as a natural exfoliator.
High fiber, coarse vegetables, like broccoli, eaten raw scrub teeth clean.
Cheese has a milk protein in it that strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent age-related teeth yellowing.

Is Smoking the Cause of Your Stained Teeth?

Long-term smokers often have yellow or brownish teeth. Smoking also increases a person’s chance of developing gum disease since smokers have more tartar buildup than nonsmokers. Tobacco use also increases a person’s risk of developing oral cancer.

Tobacco Use and Tooth Discoloration

Cigarettes and other tobacco products contain tar and nicotine that stain teeth. These stains are not easy to remove on your own either. If you continue to smoke after getting a professional teeth whitening procedure, the stains will simply return. Unfortunately, tooth staining is probably the least of your worries where using tobacco is concerned. Tobacco also increases your chances of developing oral cancer and gum disease, among other more serious afflictions.

How Can I Treat Treat Tobacco Stained Teeth?

If you have minor staining, whiting strips or tray kits you can buy over-the-counter can whiten your teeth. If you are a heavy smoker or have extensive staining, a professional, in-office teeth whitening procedure is the only way to get a bright smile back. If you continue to use tobacco, the stains will return. To maintain your results for as long as possible, ask your dentist about resources for quitting smoking.

Smokers Tips for a Whiter Smile

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to get whiter teeth. Unfortunately, quitting is not something some patients can or want to do. If you use tobacco, you can help minimize the damage by:

  • Using a whitening toothpaste or whitening strips. Be careful not to overuse these products as tooth sensitivity can occur.
  • Getting regular dental cleanings when you have your twice-yearly exam.
  • Choose foods that offer a natural scrubbing action.

How to Prevent Teeth Staining

You can help prevent teeth staining by:

  • Practicing good dental hygiene; Don’t let plaque accumulate so agents that stain your teeth can latch on to them easily.
  • Drinking staining beverage through a straw to avoid tooth exposure to the liquid.
  • Don’t sip on coffee or cola all day long. If you want to sip, drink water.
    Rinse with water if brushing isn’t practical after consuming foods or beverages that can stain your teeth.
  • Avoid aggressive brushing, which can wear away enamel and make teeth appear more yellow.
  • If you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist about a night guard. It will prevent the enamel on your teeth from wearing down quickly.
  • See a dentist regularly for an exam and professional teeth cleaning.

How Can I Fight Teeth Staining?

You always have options. Whether you need to brighten slightly yellow teeth or teeth with staining inside the tooth, You dentist can offer:

  • Whitening toothpastes are effective against mild staining only.
  • OTC whitening strips can also treat mild teeth staining and they are slightly more effective than whitening toothpastes.
  • OTC whitening trays are effective, but may leave teeth sensitive.
  • In-office teeth whitening by a dentist offers the best results for extrinsic stains in the least amount of time.
  • Bonding, veneers and crowns can cover teeth with intrinsic stains that won’t respond to whitening options.

Remember, OTC teeth whitening toothpastes strips and gels don’t need FDA approval. So, it’s important to look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance and talk to your dentist first before using any OTC whitening products. He or she can advise you on the safest, most effective product you can buy to meet your needs. Beware of natural tooth whitening tips seen online. The ADA says there is no evidence coconut oil or turmeric can actually whiten teeth. Also avoid current articles about putting lemon juice on you teeth to whiten them. It will eat away at your tooth enamel and make the problem worse.

Talk to our dentist about the possible reasons for teeth discoloration and discover the best solution for your unique situation.

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