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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration

Are you happy with the color of your teeth when you look in the mirror? It’s common for teeth to lose their natural, white color over time. Have you ever wondered what causes tooth discoloration? Or perhaps you have thought about what you can do to whiten your teeth and prevent stains from returning. Either way, the causes behind tooth staining and discoloration are multi-faceted. However, there is usually a way to make them whiter and brighter. Keep reading to learn more.

Six Reasons Why Your Teeth Are Discolored

Tooth stains can develop on the surface of your teeth, and they can also occur underneath the tooth enamel. It’s possible for people to experience both tooth stains that affect the tooth’s surface and below the enamel. Depending on the reasons why your teeth have become stained, it can impact how they need to be treated. For example, stains that are under the enamel can often only be mixed with veneers, whereas other stains may be easily removed with bleaching from the dentist. There are six common reasons for why teeth become stained.

  • Tobacco and smoking: Tooth stains are inevitable if you smoke or use tobacco products, but this unhealthy habit can also lead to cavities and periodontal disease.
  • Medications: Antihistamines, high blood pressure medication, and specific antibiotics, including doxycycline and tetracycline, can cause your teeth to appear gray or brown.
  • Inadequate brushing and flossing: Your teeth can take on a yellowish tint if you don’t brush and floss every day to remove plaque and food stains.
  • Injury or trauma: Suffering an injury that affects your teeth and mouth can permanently discolor teeth by disrupting blood flow to the affected teeth. These types of injuries can result in teeth that appear black, gray, yellow, or brown.
  • Diet: The foods and drinks we consume every day can stain your teeth, especially if you don’t brush and floss each day.
  • Age: It’s natural for teeth to lose their natural white color as you age. Enamel thins gradually as you get older, and this process exposes the dentin underneath, which is yellow in color.

What Are the Most Common Foods and Drinks That Stain Teeth?

The color and overall health of your teeth are greatly affected by the foods and drinks you consume regularly. The following foods and drinks are some of the most common culprits when it comes to tooth discoloration, but do not consider this the complete list.

  • Sauces made from tomatoes: The bright red color and high acidity of pasta sauce and other tomato-based sauces can stain your teeth over time.
  • Candy: Unless you’re eating sugar-free candy, the high levels of sugar found in most types of candy can damage your tooth enamel, resulting in stains.
  • Soda: Phosphoric acid is a common element in most types of soda, and it can gradually wear away your tooth enamel if you drink soda regularly. The high sugar content of soda is also damaging to your enamel.
  • Beverages containing tannins: Tannins are a plant compound found in many popular beverages, such as tea, coffee, and red wine. When you regularly drink these beverages, the tannins adhere to the surface of your teeth. This stains your enamel over time and makes them appear darker in color.

Prevent Stained Teeth With These Foods and Drinks

Do you want to reduce tooth stains and help preserve the color of your teeth? Make these foods and drinks a staple in your diet:

  • Seeds and nuts: The tough, crunchy texture of most types of seeds and nuts can gently scrub away stains from your tooth enamel. Sunflower seeds, walnuts, and almonds are just a few examples of seeds and nuts that can improve the color of your teeth.
  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables: Eating celery, broccoli, cauliflower, pears, and apples, can increase saliva production, helping to neutralize harmful acids before they can erode your tooth enamel.
  • Cheese and milk: The protein, phosphorous, and calcium found in milk and cheese can protect your tooth enamel by buffering acids in your mouth and strengthening your teeth against the harmful effects of enamel erosion.
  • Water: Drinking water throughout the day lowers your risk of enamel erosion by reducing the acidity level in your mouth.

The Truth About Smoking and Tooth Discoloration

Most people are aware of the negative effects smoking and tobacco products can have on teeth, such as causing yellow and dark brown stains and raising your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. To avoid these types of deep stains, dentists suggest that you do not smoke or use tobacco products. However, for those who aren’t ready to quit smoking, these tips can reduce the severity of tooth stains from smoking:

  • Prioritize brushing your teeth after smoking.
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in sugar and high in vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Schedule consistent visits at your dentist’s office for professional cleanings.
  • Practice good oral hygiene at home by brushing and flossing each day.

How to Improve the Appearance of Stained Teeth

If you’d like to receive the quickest and most dramatic whitening results, consider professional whitening treatments in a dentist’s office. Unlike most other forms of teeth whitening, in-office whitening treatments can remove dark stains from your teeth. Veneers and crowns are cosmetic dentistry options that cover up signs of stains, and they’re ideal options for teeth that are resistant to professional whitening treatments.

Over-the-counter whiteners can remove some surface stains, but they aren’t effective at removing deep stains and can even damage your teeth if you don’t follow the instructions closely. Whitening kits from your dentist can remove light surface stains, but they won’t provide dramatic whitening results. Whitening toothpastes offer modest whitening results and are the least effective option.

How to Avoid Teeth Stains

To prevent stains and discoloration from dulling your bright smile, there are several things you can do as recommended by most dentists. Try the following:

  • Visit your dentist as soon as possible after suffering an injury that affects your teeth and mouth.
  • See your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings that can polish away stains.
  • Take care of your teeth at home by brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash every day.
  • Make sure to brush after eating and drinking anything that is high in sugar or is very acidic.
  • Rinse your mouth with water if brushing after meals and snacks isn’t possible.

To learn more about how you can whiten your smile, contact us to make an appointment.

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