Every year, people spend millions of dollars on teeth whitening products and treatments for the simple reason of getting rid of those awful stains on their teeth. But how did those stains get there in the first place? Here is a quick guide to help you understand the causes of stained teeth.
Poor Oral Hygiene
What happens to the color of a brand new rug that keeps getting used and stepped on every day? It gets dirty and stained. Same rule applies to your teeth. Your teeth are constantly being used every day, whether you are eating food or drinking a beverage. And if you lack proper brushing and flossing, plaque begins to build up on the surface and gum line of your teeth, causing it to harden and turn into tartar, which gives your teeth that yellowish, bone colored appearance.
Another factor of stained teeth due to inadequate brushing and flossing is having tooth decay. Problems begin to occur when cavities are formed and not taken care of right away. Teeth in this condition display a brown to black color.
According to studies, your teeth are made of porous enamel, meaning that any substances such as coffee, red wine and foods that are rich in dark pigment (blueberries) can easily be absorbed within these pores. Frequently eating these particular foods can cause stains and permanent discoloration of your teeth.
Here is a list of more foods that stain teeth:
- Black tea
- Dark colored sodas
- Soy sauce
- Tomato sauce
- High acidic foods
A good rule of thumb to follow is that if the food or drink can stain your rug, then it can definitely stain your teeth as well.
Tobacco products are one of the worst culprits for stained teeth due to the strong compounds and thousands of chemicals incorporated into each product. When smoked or chewed on, your teeth absorb particles of tar (brown sticky mass produced when condensed) that is produced in products containing nicotine. Tobacco is available in many forms including:
- Chewing Tobacco
There are several diseases and health conditions known to affect your tooth's enamel and dentin, (inner layer of your tooth) leading to discoloration. Certain treatments involving radiation and chemotherapy are also known to cause discoloration, especially when they are centered on the head and neck areas.
Side effects of many common medications, including antibiotic tetracycline and doxycycline, are well documented and proven to cause dark grey and brown stains on teeth. Children eight years of age and under are not given medications containing tetracycline because of their teeth development. Pregnant women taking tetracycline during their second or third trimester may give birth to a child that will later develop stained teeth over time.
Just like your hair and skin, the appearance of teeth also changes during the course of your life. The average wear and tear of a person's teeth over a life time can cause teeth to dull and discolor. Through constant use and grinding, the enamel on your teeth starts to wear thin, allowing that natural under layer of your tooth to show, which is a natural pale yellow color.
Despite great care and effort to keep your teeth from staining, some factors like genetics play a major role in determining the color of your teeth. Some are fortunate to be born with lighter shades of enamel while others will be born with a darker shade. It all depends on the DNA passed down by your parents.
Teeth that have experienced some type of trauma (like a sports related injury) can show discoloration depending on the severity of the injury. In some cases, the injury causes the nerve inside the tooth to die, creating stains in or around the tooth. For further evaluation, it's best to see a dentist.
Grinding Your Teeth at Night
Whether you are experiencing a nightmare or suffering from stress, teeth grinding at night can cause micro cracks and chips to appear on the enamel of your tooth causing the edges to be darkened.
Tips to Prevent Teeth Staining
1. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. If possible, after every meal is preferred.
2. Avoid foods and beverages that cause stains.
3. Use a straw to prevent your teeth from being exposed to beverages that can stain.
4. Rinse your mouth with water after each meal.
5. Stop smoking and chewing on tobacco.
6. Stop drinking coffee. If you must, try to cut back on how much you drink daily.
7. Avoid taking medications that contain tetracycline and doxycycline.
8. Use over the counter whitening products.
9. Visit the dentist every six months for checkups and cleaning.
10. Use a mouth guard if you're prone to teeth grinding or participate in any physical activity.