Teeth Stains: What Are My Options?

Teeth Stains: What Are My Options?

Everyone wants beautiful white teeth, so it’s no surprise that new patients mention teeth stains as one of their top concerns. Not only do we tend to associate whiter teeth with attractiveness, but also with optimal oral health and oral hygiene. While it is important to remember that brown staining on teeth can be normal, many patients want to know, “Are my teeth permanently stained? How do I get rid of stained teeth?” At Summit Dental Partners, we are committed to helping our patients decrease this staining and brighten their smiles.

Stains on teeth can occur for a variety of reasons, including certain foods and drinks or habits like smoking and inadequate brushing. In this blog, we’re going to help you understand why teeth stains happen, how to protect your smile, and how to get rid of stains on teeth.

What Causes Teeth Stains?

Intrinsic and extrinsic teeth staining are the two categories of teeth discoloration. In a nutshell, extrinsic stains form on the surface of your tooth enamel, while intrinsic ones originate beneath the enamel. Before trying to remove any type of stain, you should first establish which category your particular discoloration falls into.

What Are Extrinsic Stains?

Extrinsic stains affect the enamel (the hard outer layer of teeth). When the enamel is discolored, you may notice a yellowish hue on your teeth. Because our enamel is naturally susceptible to staining, many people have yellowing or stained teeth. The good news is: Extrinsic teeth stains are not permanent! This type of stain can usually be corrected with professional teeth whitening treatments. 

We do recommend you avoid using at-home solutions (whitening mouthwash, whitening toothpaste, etc.) since they are frequently abrasive and might actually damage the enamel itself, making it more prone to future teeth stains.

Extrinsic stains are typically caused by everyday choices and activities. People who smoke, drink coffee or tea, eat foods high in color pigment (such as red wine), etc., are more likely to experience this type of tooth staining. A helpful way to think about this is – if it can stain your carpet, it can probably also stain your teeth.

Many dark-colored foods and beverages, like soy sauce, balsamic dressing, blueberries, and beetroot can cause your teeth to stain. However, with consistent care from a professional hygienist as well as a personalized at-home oral routine, you can reduce the effects of staining while still enjoying all your favorite foods.

How Are Intrinsic Stains Different?

Intrinsic stains are more difficult to remove because they penetrate the inner layer of the teeth, which is called dentin. Tooth discoloration is an unfortunate side effect of treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, especially when the treatment is focused on the head or neck areas. The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline also list tooth staining as a well-known side effect. In addition, some medications can cause dry mouth, which inhibits saliva’s natural ability to cleanse the mouth. This increases your risk of developing dental problems like decay, gum disease, or staining.

What Else Causes Teeth Stains?

Yellowing is common in aging teeth, especially since yellowed enamel becomes more transparent with time. Because enamel loses its density over time, it becomes more transparent with age, and this may be one of the reasons why older individuals’ teeth are frequently yellowed. Years of smoking, eating particular meals, and chips or cracks in teeth can all contribute to tooth discoloration.

How to Get Rid of Stains on Teeth

You can easily keep your smile gleaming by going to the dentist and hygienist regularly. Aim for at least 2 visits to the dental office per year for your professional cleanings and examinations.

Summit Dental Partners offers teeth whitening for those who want a brighter smile. Our office is spacious and welcoming, so book an appointment today!

How to Prevent Teeth Staining

The simplest way to keep your teeth unstained is by avoiding the products that cause staining, such as:

  • black coffee
  • tea
  • red wine
  • soda
  • juice
  • popsicles
  • slushies
  • energy drinks
  • soy sauce
  • balsamic vinegar
  • tomato sauce
  • blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries
  • beets
  • curry
  • dark caramel and other food colorings
  • candy

Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth?

Yes. If you drink coffee often, the tannins in the beverage will seep into your pores and leave deep stains. Over time, this can also lead to wearing away of the enamel due to the acidity present in coffee. Black tea and red wine contain similarly staining tannins.

However, there is some good news! Coffee is less acidic than many other beverages, including soft drinks and certain fruit juices, so it’s not the worst option for a morning pick-me-up. The key to enjoying coffee without staining your teeth is to maintain healthy habits like drinking water and brushing regularly.

How to Keep Your Teeth White

In addition to limiting the most likely causes for teeth stains and keeping up with your regular dental appointments, you can also try incorporating some of these best practices into your oral health routine:

  • Drink your coffee and tea with a straw. Using a straw helps the liquid bypass your teeth, which limits their exposure.
  • Add milk to your tea or coffee
  • Avoid brushing immediately after eating. While this might seem counterintuitive, brushing can actually brush the stain into your teeth rather than washing it away. Instead, rinse with water after eating or drinking anything on the list above.
  • Sneak in more raw, crunchy veggies. These basically act like natural floss, removing food particles that could potentially stain your enamel.
  • Use a tongue cleaner!
  • Trade your manual toothbrush for an electric one.
  • Brush for two minutes twice a day and remember to floss!