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Posted on: July 15, 2021
Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration
Are your teeth not as white as they used to be? It’s common for teeth to become discolored over time, but that does not mean you have to suffer the appearance of discolored teeth when you get older. By learning about what causes tooth discoloration and taking steps to remedy the problem, you can return to a white, bright smile in no time.
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
There are many reasons for why teeth become stained. While some of these reasons are within your control, others occur naturally and may not be preventable. Take a look at some of the most common causes of stained teeth:
- Tobacco use
- Poor dental hygiene
- Age, which can cause tooth enamel to wear away. This exposes the layer underneath, called dentin, which is yellow in color.
- Taking certain prescription medications, such as antibiotics, antihistamines, antipsychotic drugs, and antihypertensive medications.
- Genetics – some people have teeth that are more yellow or brown than others or they may be predisposed to conditions affecting the color of the teeth.
- Trauma to permanent teeth which affects the blood flow, which may cause the tooth’s nerve to die.
Avoid These Foods and Drinks That Stain Teeth
You might not realize that your diet plays a major role in the color of your teeth, but it does. Some foods create stains on teeth and other foods actually help keep your teeth clean! Enjoy these foods and drinks in moderation to preserve the color of your teeth:
- Coffee, tea, and wine: Coffee, tea, and red wine contain tannins, a chemical compound that make it easier for stains to stick to your teeth.
- Berries: Although berries are rich in antioxidants, due to their strong colors and high acidity, they can stain your teeth. This includes juices, jams, and jellies made of blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, or blackberries.
- Cola: Colas and other sodas contain simple sugars, which are highly acidic and can lead to the erosion of tooth enamel.
- Tomato sauce: Since tomato sauce is highly acidic, it can wear down tooth enamel over time. Once your tooth enamel has eroded, it’s easy for foods and drinks to stain your teeth.
- Candy and sweet snacks: Candy and other sweet snacks are full of sugar, which attacks tooth enamel and leads to tooth discoloration.
- Soy sauce and balsamic vinegar: While common in dressings and sauces, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar have a rich, dark color that can quickly stain your teeth.
Food and Drinks That Prevent Stained Teeth
Although there are many foods and drinks that contribute to tooth staining, there are also numerous foods and drinks that can prevent stains from forming on your teeth. Consume these foods and drinks to maintain your bright smile:
- Milk and cheese: The protein in milk, cheese, and other sources of dairy help to neutralize harmful acids that wear away tooth enamel by increasing the flow of saliva. The calcium in these food sources can also strengthen your teeth and protect your tooth enamel from erosion.
- Water: Water is a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day, and it’s also an excellent way to prevent tooth stains. Simply rinse your mouth with water after consuming anything that is acidic or high in sugar.
- Apples: Apples are rich in fiber, and can stimulate your gums by increasing the flow of saliva and washing away cavity-causing bacteria.
- Nuts and seeds: Due to their rough texture, nuts and seeds can buff away stains and discoloration from your teeth, helping them appear whiter.
How Does Smoking Discolor Teeth?
If you are a smoker, you likely have some degree of tooth discoloration. It’s common for the teeth of a regular smoker to appear yellow or gray in color. To maintain a healthy, bright smile, our dentists recommend staying away from all forms of tobacco. Smoking not only harms your overall health, but it also greatly increases your risk of periodontal disease.
If you’re not ready to quit smoking or using tobacco products and can live with the serious health risks and tooth discoloration, follow these tips that can help you reduce tooth stains from smoking:
- See your dentist at least twice a year for consistent, professional cleanings.
- Consume a healthy diet.
- Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to prevent the buildup of tooth stains. Use an antibacterial mouth wash each day to reduce plaque.
- Try to brush your teeth after smoking and eating to reduce tooth stains.
Treatments for Improving Stained Teeth
If your teeth are discolored, there are many treatments available that can eliminate or reduce the appearance of tooth discoloration. Talk to your dentist about the treatments listed below and their varying degrees of effectiveness.
- Tooth whitening toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste provides the least effective whitening results. It can remove light surface stains on your teeth, but it won’t lighten dark stains or tooth stains that are deeper than your tooth’s surface. They also won’t change your tooth’s natural color.
- Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits: At-home whitening kits can remove stains and discoloration, but they have some limitations. Their effectiveness varies depending on the degree of tooth discoloration, and they won’t remove deep stains from teeth. They can also increase tooth sensitivity.
- At-home whitening kits from your dentist: Whitening kits from your dentist are effective at removing most tooth stains and discoloration, but they are more time-consuming in comparison to in-office whitening treatments.
- In-office whitening treatments: Professional whitening treatments in your dentist’s office are the most effective at removing tooth stains, even deep surface stains. In-office whitening treatments also provide dramatic results in the least amount of time.
- Veneers or dental crowns: These restorative options can cover and restore deeply stained teeth, but they are not the easiest or least expensive option.
How to Prevent Tooth Stains
Fortunately, if you try a few easy-to-follow preventative actions, it’s possible to avoid unsightly tooth stains. To prevent tooth stains from developing, follow these recommendations from our dentists:
- Practice good oral hygiene habits at home by brushing at least twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing your mouth with mouthwash.
Receive professional dental cleanings every six months to reduce tooth discoloration.
- Try to brush your teeth after every meal, including snacks.
If you can’t brush your teeth after eating, rinse your mouth with water.
- Limit your consumption of food and drinks that can stain your teeth, such as tea, red wine, and coffee.
Ask your dentist about how they can help you achieve a brighter smile.