Having yellow or brown stains on your teeth can be embarrassing. Fortunately, it’s within your control to eliminate most kinds of tooth stains and prevent them from coming back.
Dr. Mohammad Sajid, a Coast Dental Robin Road dentist in Acworth, Georgia, outlines the five most common reasons for stained teeth and what you can do about them:
1. Poor Oral Hygiene. If you don't brush and floss your teeth correctly, the plaque on your teeth hardens into tartar, which makes your teeth look yellowish. Keep in mind that the enamel on your teeth has pores. If you don't remove the plaque, which is a sticky collection of bacteria and food debris, then it can seep into the enamel and cause discoloration. Also, poor oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay, and the cavities can appear yellow or brown.
What can you do? Contact your dentist’s office for an exam and cleaning. The doctor will be able to tell if the discoloration is the result of cavities and the hygienist can clean your teeth and demonstrate the right way to brush and floss.
2. Tobacco. The nicotine from both cigarettes and chewing tobacco produces a dark yellow or brown stain on the teeth. Even if you're brushing and flossing well at home, the stains from the chemicals in these products are difficult to remove.
What can you do? The best way to prevent the stains is to stop smoking or chewing. If you can't, then talk to your dentist about teeth whitening alternatives.
3. Drinking and eating habits. Do you drink coffee, tea, red wine, dark soda or dark fruit juices like grape juice? They could be affecting the color of your teeth. "There are many people who wake up in the morning and have their coffee, but they don’t realize the liquid soaks into the pores of the enamel and over time turns the teeth yellowish or brownish,” Dr. Sajid said. Another problem: sodas and energy drinks are very acidic and can erode the enamel of your teeth. This makes the enamel very thin, and the darker yellow color of the second layer of the tooth, called the dentin, becomes more visible. That can also make your teeth look stained. Even eating large quantities of blueberries, blackberries or flavor-enhancers like soy sauce and curry can color your teeth.
What can you do? "The best thing to do is to cut down the amount of coffee or soda you drink," said Dr. Sajid. "The next best thing is to drink it through a straw. It sounds odd, but instead of hitting the front of your teeth, the liquid will hit the palate and not have as much contact with the surface of the teeth." Also, Dr. Sajid recommends rinsing with water after you drink or eat something that has the capability of staining your teeth.
4. Age. Teeth darken over the years because of wear and tear. Kids and teenagers who practice good oral hygiene typically have white teeth. As you get into your 30s, your teeth begin to get slightly more yellow, Dr. Sajid said. As you get older, your teeth start to look grey. People who have silver fillings can also see them leach over time, causing black stains that further discolor their teeth.
What can you do? In addition to proper oral hygiene, you may want to consider replacing older silver fillings with white, composite fillings or all-ceramic crowns. A professional-strength teeth whitening application will lighten your teeth also. Talk to your dentist about which options are best for you.
5. Drugs/chemicals. The antibiotic Tetracycline, which can be used to treat acne, middle ear infections, urinary tract infections and other bacterial infections, can cause permanent tooth stains if it's taken by children while their teeth are still forming. Also, if a child receives too much fluoride during tooth development, it can cause dental fluorosis, which appears as white spots or streaks on the teeth. It can be difficult to minimize the discoloration caused by either of these chemicals. Talk to your dentist about what options may be available to you.
One last word of advice: if you want whiter teeth, then you need to make sure you’re committed to keeping them white. An in-office teeth whitening process like BriteOn™ Whitening can whiten your teeth up to six shades, but you need to brush and floss your teeth properly to maintain your beautiful smile!
Mohammad Sajid, DDS, provides general dentistry services to patients age 6 and older. Services include tooth whitening, soft tissue laser management, bone grafting, crown lengthening, dental implant restorations, extractions, veneers, ceramic crowns, ridge augmentation, root canal therapy and periodontal disease management. Dr. Sajid is a member of the American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry and Georgia Dental Association. He is fluent in English, Urdu and Hindi. He sees patients at Coast Dental Robin Road, 5552 Robin Road, Suite A, Acworth, Georgia, 30102. The telephone number is 770-928-0595.
Written by: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed by: Mohammad Sajid, DDS
Reviewed by: Charbel Klaib, DMD
Reviewed by: Charles Laun, DMD
Reviewed by: Cindy Roark, DMD