Having a white, healthy smile is everyone’s dream! Unfortunately, darkened or discolored teeth can occur through many different causes. As we grow older, our pearly whites are subjected to different foods, bacteria, and medical treatments that can damage them. Although some of these tooth-staining causes can be avoided and controlled, others, such as age or disturbed enamel development, cannot.
You must consult a dentist if you are experiencing tooth discoloration and wish to restore your teeth’s whiteness. Professional advice can help you determine the best lifestyle changes or whitening procedures for your individual needs. In the meantime, here are some causes and preventions of tooth discoloration.
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
In most cases, tooth discoloration is caused by lifestyle factors or dental health issues. In addition, aging and improperly developed enamel can cause them to darken. To determine the cause of your staining, contact your dentist if you are considering teeth whitening for cosmetic reasons. Whitening options vary depending on whether the discoloration is caused by food consumption or dental problems.
Among the most common causes of tooth discoloration are:
- Colored soda;
- Fruits such as apples or grapes;
- Tomato sauce;
- Soy sauce.
Staining of teeth can also be caused by other lifestyle habits, such as smoking and chewing tobacco. However, the most likely cause of discolored teeth is inadequate brushing or oral health habits.
Types of Tooth Staining
Whenever your teeth become darker, change color, or develop white or dark spots, you are suffering from tooth staining. Based on their causes, tooth discoloration can be divided into three main types:
To treat tooth discoloration properly, you need to identify the cause of the staining.
#1: Extrinsic Teeth Stains
Extrinsic stains are caused by things that come in contact with the surface of your teeth. For example, smoking or certain types of food can cause such stains.
Environmental factors also contribute to extrinsic teeth stains. For instance, drinking water with naturally high fluoride levels can contain excessive fluoride. Additionally, excessive fluoride use in teeth whitening products like whitening strips and oral fluoride supplements discolors teeth.
#2: Intrinsic Stains
Unlike extrinsic stains, intrinsic tooth stains are caused by something inside your teeth or body. These diseases can affect tooth enamel (i.e., the hard surface of your teeth) as well as dentin (i.e., the underlying material under your enamel). It is also possible for treatments such as head and neck radiation or chemotherapy to affect tooth color.
The intrinsic stains in the teeth are much more resistant to over-the-counter remedies because they originate within the tooth.
As a result of poor enamel development, children often develop intrinsic stains on their teeth. It is possible, for instance, for a pregnant woman to suffer from an infection that adversely affects the enamel development of her baby’s teeth, causing future discoloration. In addition, children’s teeth can become discolored due to some medications, including antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline.
#3: Age-Related Teeth Stains
Last but not least, age-related stains result from wear and tear over time. It is natural for tooth enamel to thin and wear away as one ages, revealing yellow dentin, which is less appealing than white enamel. In addition, the discoloration can occur due to intrinsic or extrinsic factors.
Staining by Tooth Color
The reason behind the discoloration of your teeth can be identified by looking at the color of your teeth. Below is a list of reasons why your teeth might turn a particular color:
Yellow teeth are most likely the result of the unavoidable process of aging. Your teeth’s white enamel wears down over time, revealing the yellow dentin or core underneath. It is also possible for yellow stains to develop at a younger age due to smoking, chewing tobacco, and eating certain foods.
Several factors contribute to tooth decay, including tobacco, dark beverages, and poor oral hygiene. Tartar buildup can also cause brown teeth, just as tooth decay does.
Fluoride has its uses, but too much of it can cause white spots on teeth, especially in young children. Fluorosis is characterized by white spots as a result of excessive fluoride contact. Fluorosis can occur from drinking too much fluoride or overusing whitening products like fluoride rinses and toothpaste.
It is tooth decay or tooth pulp necrosis that causes the most unsightly tooth discoloration and blackened teeth. The chewing of betel nuts or the presence of an advanced dental cavity can also result in black teeth. You can also develop black lines on your teeth after exposure to minerals such as iron, silver sulfide-containing materials, or manganese in industrial settings or supplements.
Finally, your teeth can turn purple if they are discolored. You are likely to experience this issue if you consume red wine or another similarly concentrated beverage. As a result of red wine’s dyeing properties, the enamel of your teeth can become discolored, making them match the color of red wine.
How to Remove Teeth Stains
If your teeth color is making you feel down, don’t worry! There are several ways to remove stains.
Many “miracle” tooth whitening at-home remedies can be found online, whether you browse social media or search Google. At Patuxent Orthodontics, however, we strongly advise you against using at-home whitening remedies as they can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. Instead, we recommend you seek the services of professional practitioners whose education and experience can provide you with a safe experience. Nevertheless, your dentist can make custom trays for you to use at home. Wearing the tray on your teeth for an hour a day with whitening gel in it will safely whiten your teeth outside Dr. Lee’s office.
In-office dental treatments are also an option for whitening your teeth. They are more effective than at-home treatments because they use higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Compared to other treatment methods, your orthodontist’s treatment will also last longer.
Professional practitioners, such as Patuxent Orthodontics, offer clinically approved teeth whitening machines such as the GLO Teeth Whitening system for removing teeth stains. Using heat and blue LED light, GLO provides immediate tooth whitening without any damage. With GLO, you don’t have to worry about messy trays, runny gels, or strips. You can achieve up to 12 shades lighter teeth using the GLO process in less than an hour and a half. Whether you opt for an at-home or in-office treatment, a brighter smile can boost your confidence!
Finally, over-the-counter products such as white toothpaste and strips can be used to diminish surface stains. These products, however, may only help diminish extrinsic teeth discoloration and are less effective at removing intrinsic stains.
How to Prevent Tooth Discoloration
The good news is that you can easily prevent extrinsic tooth discoloration by watching what you eat and drink. The same foods and beverages that can stain your hands or clothes can also stain your pearly whites. Therefore, it is important to brush or rinse your mouth after consuming particularly stain-prone foods.
Limit your coffee consumption and smoking habits to prevent staining. To avoid staining, use a straw if you can’t give up soda, juice, or iced coffee. Straws keep liquid away from your teeth’s visible front surfaces!
To avoid both extrinsic and intrinsic staining, improve your dental hygiene by brushing and flossing daily. Each of these procedures can help fight plaque. Plaque is a hard material that forms on your teeth and makes them sticky, giving stains something to grip tightly. Additionally, visit a dental hygienist every six months for a professional cleaning.
If you maintain good oral health habits and avoid excessive consumption of certain foods, your mouth will remain clean, and your smile will be radiant!
Patuxent Orthodontics Can Help Treat Your Discolored Teeth!
Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if you think that teeth whitening may be a solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of teeth whitening or simply have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (240) 802-7217 or send us a message through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free consultation! Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in California, Lexington Park, and Great Mills and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in MD, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!
- “Tooth Discoloration: In-Office & at-Home Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10958-tooth-discoloration. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.
- “Yellow Teeth and Other Discoloration: Causes and Treatments.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tooth-discoloration. Accessed 8 Nov. 2022.