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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration

Everyone wants a bright, white smile; it can make you look younger and give you a serious confidence boost. Unfortunately, your teeth can lose their luminous look for many different reasons.

What Causes Tooth Discoloration and Staining?

Teeth stain over time for a variety of reasons, and these stains can affect both the surface of your teeth and extend deep into the enamel. Depending on the type of staining, your dentist can recommend ways to improve the color of your teeth or to erase stains. Once you know why you have stained or discolored teeth, it is easier for a dentist to help you find the appropriate solution. The following occurrences are the most common reasons why your smile isn’t as bright as it used to be:

  • Diet: Regularly consuming acidic foods and drinks, dark-colored beverages, or foods that are highly pigmented, can contribute to tooth staining.
  • Smoking and tobacco use: Whether you chew tobacco or smoke cigarettes, both unhealthy habits can stain your teeth.
  • Too much fluoride: If your teeth are exposed to high levels of fluoride as a child, you can develop white, chalk-like stains on your teeth.
  • Poor dental hygiene: If you don’t brush your teeth and floss consistently, tooth discoloration and yellow stains can develop.
  • Aging: It’s natural for your teeth to yellow over time as part of the aging process. As we get older, tooth enamel wears away and becomes thinner. This allows the dentin layer, which is yellow in color, to show through.
  • Tooth trauma: If you fall or experience another type of accident that results in tooth trauma, it’s possible for the tooth’s pulp to become damaged. When this occurs, your tooth may be black or gray in color. Advanced tooth decay can also cause tooth discoloration.
  • Prescription medications: Many prescription medications can result in tooth discoloration. These include antipsychotic medications, antihistamines, blood pressure medication, and certain antibiotics, such as tetracycline and doxycycline.

The Most Common Food and Drinks Linked to Tooth Stains

Unfortunately, many of the delicious foods and drinks we consume can cause staining. While you don’t have to give them up completely, it may be best to consume them in moderation or brush right after eating or drinking these foods and beverages. Take a look at some of the most common teeth-staining foods and drinks that can negatively affect the color of your teeth.

  • Red wine: Red wine is a very acidic beverage that can gradually wear away your tooth enamel over time.
  • Tea: While tea is a healthy beverage that’s rich in antioxidants, this hot drink can also discolor your teeth. Green, herbal, or white tea is less likely to stain your teeth while still providing health benefits.
  • Coffee: Although it’s part of most people’s everyday routines, drinking coffee each day can stain your teeth. To reduce the staining effects of drinking coffee, try adding milk every time you drink coffee.
  • Candy: Most candies are high in sugar and are prone to sticking to your teeth, which can wear away tooth enamel.
  • Soda: Soda is high in sugar and acid, creating an environment in your mouth that promotes enamel erosion and tooth stains.
  • Pasta sauce: Tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants, but they contain properties that can stain your teeth. Due to its bright color, high acid content, and tendency to stick to your teeth, pasta sauce can damage your enamel and contribute to stains.
  • Curry: Curry is a delicious dish found in Indian cuisine. Since most curries have a highly pigmented yellow hue, this dish can quickly stain your teeth when eaten regularly.

Foods and Drinks That Prevent Tooth Stains

Even if you indulge in foods and drinks that contribute to tooth stains, you can counteract these negative effects by adding specific foods and drinks to your diet that prevent tooth discoloration from happening. These include:

  • Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables: Foods that are high in fiber stimulate the flow of saliva, helping to clean your mouth and wash away food debris before it can damage your tooth enamel. These foods can also neutralize acids before they can wear away tooth enamel. Make crunchy fruits and vegetables a part of your diet, such as celery, carrots, pears, apples, and broccoli.
  • Water: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day ensures that you stay fully hydrated, and it also helps wash away food particles and enamel-eroding acids before they can harm your tooth enamel.
  • Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and other dairy products are high in calcium and protein, which can protect your teeth from damaging acids that wear away tooth enamel. Calcium can also strengthen enamel and prevent erosion.

Smoking and Tooth Discoloration

Smoking and using tobacco products regularly exposes your teeth to nicotine and tobacco. This can cause stained teeth that are yellow, brown, gray, or black in appearance. THe best way to prevent these stains is to quit smoking. If you choose to continue to smoke or use other tobacco products, consider acting on some of the tips below to help you reduce discoloration from smoking.

  • Schedule twice-yearly professional cleanings at your dentist’s office. Your dental professional will be able to monitor your teeth and help you prevent permanent or expensive problems.
  • Make sure that you’re brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash each day.
  • Eat a diet that’s low in sugar and high in protein, calcium, and antioxidants.
  • Brush after meals and snacks.
  • Brush after smoking cigarettes or using tobacco products.

How Tooth Stains Are Treated

For many people, tooth stains are unavoidable. Luckily, there are many treatment options available that can brighten your smile. Take a look at these options:

  • Tooth whitening toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste can remove mild stains but are the least effective method.
  • Over-the-counter whitening products: These are weaker than professional treatments and can cause tooth sensitivity.
  • Whitening kits from your dentist: These remove most stains effectively, but take more time than professional treatments.
  • Professional tooth whitening: In-office treatments provide dramatic whitening in the least amount of time.
  • Veneers or crowns: These restorative treatments cover up stains to reveal whiter teeth.

What You Can Do to Prevent Tooth Stains

If you take the proper precautions, it’s possible to prevent tooth stains and discoloration. Follow these tips for a brighter smile:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily, floss once a day, and rinse with mouthwash.
  • Try to brush your teeth after each meal. If needed, put a small travel-sized tooth brush in your backpack or purse to help you remember to brush your teeth more frequently.
  • Rinse your mouth with water if brushing after every meal isn’t possible.
  • Get consistent cleanings at your dentist’s office. Your dentist should be your partner in clean, healthy teeth. Give us a call if you need a new dental partner or you have questions about keeping your teeth clean.

Schedule your appointment today to learn how we can help you whiten your smile.

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(302) 352-2321