What to do for Brown or Stained Teeth
Your once bright, white teeth are now discolored, causing stained teeth with brown spots or yellowish hues, causing you to feel less confident in your smile. What caused this staining and what can you do about it? Let’s discuss. Despite its relative strength, the enamel of our teeth is quite porous. This means foods and liquids can permeate (get through) the surface of the enamel and cause staining. The most common reasons for a person’s teeth to become discolored are due to modifiable lifestyle choices – meaning, you can change your habits to limit the discoloration you’re experiencing. Let’s explore some of the foods, drinks, and activities we know can impact your enamel and affect the color of your teeth.
Dark-colored, Sugary, or Acidic Drinks
When you drink coffee, tea, red or white wine, or your favorite soda (clear or colored), your teeth can absorb some of the color from the beverage through the porous surface of the enamel. Acid content causes enamel thinning, and sugar from these drinks sticks to teeth and can cause tooth decay. Coffee, tea, and red wine also have a substance called “tannin”. Tannins are chemical compounds that can make these stain causing liquids more easily stick to your teeth. Over time and with regular consumption, the sugar content, tannins, and acidity of these drinks can erode your enamel, making the enamel more likely to absorb stains and become discolored.
Juice and Sports Drinks
Just like with soda or other sweetened beverages, fruit juice contains sugar and is acidic. The natural fruit acids combined with the high sugar content can affect your tooth enamel over time, which will cause thinning and discoloration. Other culprits include popular sports drinks. Known for their high sugar and acid content, sports drinks tend to erode your enamel and should be avoided or consumed with careful moderation.
Like the drinks mentioned, foods with a lot of sugar, high acid content, and dark colors can also cause staining of our teeth. And the deep pigmentation of some sauces and brightly colored fruits can discolor your enamel. Here are some of the top tooth-staining foods to be aware of:
- Rich sauces containing tomatoes or curry paste
- Citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, grapefruit, etc.)
- Dark-colored fruit and berries (blueberries, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, pomegranates, red grapes)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Candy, gummies, and other sweets
- Sugary popsicles and slushies
- Soy sauce
- Starchy foods (bread, pasta, potatoes, etc.)
- Foods high in food coloring
While it isn’t necessary (nor a good idea) to completely avoid the healthy fruits and vegetables that may stain your teeth, you should always rinse your mouth (or better yet, brush your teeth!) after consuming any of the foods or drinks from this list. That will limit their impact to your tooth enamel. If your favorite beverage is on this list, you can try to drink it with a straw to minimize direct contact with your teeth.
Among the many health risks of smoking, staining of your teeth is very likely when you smoke (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, marijuana) or use chewing tobacco. The residue left behind by tobacco or marijuana in these products can stain our teeth, causing them to look very yellow over time. Our advice is to quit smoking or chewing tobacco in order to preserve your teeth and improve your overall health.
Poor Oral Health
To keep your teeth as bright and white as possible, be sure you visit your dentist twice per year for a full exam and professional cleaning. It is very important to brush your teeth at least twice per day, for two minutes at a time. And you should floss your teeth at least once per day. Any time you consume any of the food or drinks mentioned in this article, thoroughly rinse your mouth or even brush your teeth when you’re done. This will help limit the amount of time the offending food and drinks sit on your enamel and cause stains.
Other Causes of Staining
In addition to the modifiable risk factors for staining we have discussed, there are also some reasons for your teeth to appear stained that are more complicated and may be out of your control. Your genetics, some medications, diseases, medical treatments (like radiation and chemotherapy), some dental materials, and even environmental reasons like high fluoride content in water can cause staining. Unfortunately, as we age, we wear away the enamel of our teeth, making it more susceptible to stains.
What are your Options?
When you can’t avoid foods, beverages, or other known reasons for stained teeth, there are options to help remove stains.Whitening toothpaste, home whitening kits, and professional whitening by a dentist are all effective at reducing or removing stains from your teeth. There are also cosmetic options like veneers, crowns, and dental bonding to change the appearance of your teeth. While you may see home remedies advertised as effective ways to whiten your teeth (oil “pulling”, using fruit acids, paste or brushes made of activated charcoal, and baking soda and peroxide paste, to name a few), there is little research to support the safety and effectiveness of any of these methods and their abrasive nature may cause harm to your enamel. Thus, they are not recommended. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or concerned about the color of your teeth, discuss it with your dentist. They’ll be able to recommend the best treatments for your individual situation. Call Today’s Dental today to set up a consultation.