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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration

Do you wish you had a whiter smile, but aren’t sure how your teeth have become discolored over time? Tooth stains and discoloration occur for a variety of reasons, but once you know how tooth stains occur, you can take the necessary steps to whiten your smile and prevent tooth stains from returning.

Common Causes of Stained Teeth

Intrinsic and extrinsic factors are the primary reasons tooth stains occur. Intrinsic tooth stains develop underneath the surface of your teeth, and they occur when stains form on the enamel of your teeth. Extrinsic stains affect the surface of your teeth and develop as a result of smoking or eating certain foods. This list describes some of the most common ways tooth discoloration occurs:

  • Prescription medications: Many prescription drugs can also discolor your teeth, such as medications that lower blood pressure, medications that control allergies, antipsychotic medications, and antibiotics, including doxycycline and tetracycline.
  • Trauma: If you suffer a sports injury or other type of injury to the face or mouth, it can disrupt the normal flow of blood to the affected tooth and cause the tooth’s nerve to die. If this occurs, the affected teeth may appear brown or black in color.
  • Age: As we get older, tooth enamel starts to gradually wear away. This natural process exposes the dentin layer underneath, which is yellow in color.
  • Inadequate brushing and flossing: If you forget to brush and floss every day, food stains and plaque can accumulate and cause tooth stains.
  • Diet: The food and drinks you consume regularly can both contribute to food stains and also prevent them from developing.
  • Cigarettes and tobacco products: Chewing tobacco products or smoking cigarettes can significantly stain your teeth.

Six Foods and Drinks That Can Stain Your Teeth

The foods and drinks you consume regularly could be a reason why your teeth aren’t as white as they used to be. If you’d like to preserve a whiter smile, eat the following foods and drinks in moderation. If you do not want to stop eating or drinking the following foods, it’s a good idea to brush your teeth or rinse out your mouth after eating the following items:

  • Berries: Cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are rich sources of antioxidants and vitamins, but they also have a tendency to stain teeth. The deep color of berries can discolor teeth, whether you eat them whole, as a jelly or jam, or drink their juice.
  • Dark-colored dressings and sauces: Dark liquids and sauces, such as soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, can stain your teeth due to their dark color.
  • Acidic beverages: Many common drinks, including red wine, coffee, and tea, contain a compound called tannins that make it easier for stains to accumulate on your teeth.
  • Candy: Most candies and other sweet treats contain large amounts of sugar, which can erode tooth enamel over time, causing it to look discolored.
  • Soda and dark colas: Due to its carbonation level and high sugar content, soda can attack tooth enamel and discolor your teeth.
  • Tomato sauce: Since tomato sauce is bright red in color and is naturally acidic, regularly consuming tomato sauce can stain your teeth by gradually wearing away your tooth enamel.

Food and Drinks That Brighten Your Smile

A whiter and brighter smile is possible by making adjustments to your diet and choosing specific foods and drinks that fight stains. Regularly eating these foods and drinks can lead to a whiter smile:

  • Water: Water is very beneficial to the body, including your teeth. Sip on water throughout the day to neutralize acids in your mouth, and make it a habit to rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking deeply pigmented foods or anything high in sugar.
  • Seeds and nuts: Most nuts and seeds have a rough, abrasive texture that works as a gentle exfoliator, which can remove stains and discoloration from your teeth. Choose sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, and almonds.
  • Milk and cheese: Cheese and milk are excellent sources of protein and calcium, which strengthen your teeth and neutralize harmful acids before they can erode your tooth enamel.
  • Apples: Most varieties of apples contain high amounts of malic acid, which can help stimulate saliva production. Saliva is helpful in neutralizing acids and food particles before they can stain your teeth.

How Smoking Contributes to Tooth Stains

Smoking or chewing tobacco can make your teeth appear grayish or yellow in color. Avoiding all forms of tobacco and nicotine is the best way to avoid these types of deep stains in your teeth. If you continue to smoke or use tobacco products, implement these tips to minimize tooth stains:

  • Try to brush your teeth after smoking to prevent stains from forming.
  • See your dentist at least twice a year for regular professional cleanings.
  • Focus on eating a healthy diet.
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque and prevent the buildup of tooth stains.

Treatments That Safely Remove Tooth Stains

Whether your teeth are stained from smoking, medications, or your diet, there are treatments available that can brighten your smile. These include:

  • Whitening toothpastes: Although it’s the least effective method, whitening toothpastes can remove mild staining.
  • Over-the-counter whitening kits: Whitening kits purchased over-the-counter will remove mild discoloration, but they won’t remove deep-set stains. They also can make your teeth sensitive.
  • At-home whitening kits from your dentist: Whitening kits provided by your dentist are effective, but the treatment time is longer compared to in-office treatments.
  • In-office whitening: Professional treatments are highly effective at removing stains, even deep stains.
  • Crowns and veneers: These options work well for teeth that are resistant to whitening treatments.

How to Avoid Tooth Discoloration

Avoiding tooth stains is possible, and all you need to do is follow these simple tips:

  • Try to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water after every meal.
  • Receive professional dental cleanings twice a year.
  • With the exception of water and milk, try drinking beverages through a straw.
  • Brush at least twice a day, floss once a day, and rinse your mouth with mouthwash.

Talk to your dentist about how you can safely whiten your teeth.

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