Teeth stains are common. In fact, one report shows that 9.8% of people have tooth stains, but this figure is likely much higher. Diet, lifestyle and brushing habits account for a large majority of discoloration, but before discussing how to get rid of stains on your teeth, let’s look at the causes of the stains in the first place.
What Causes Stains on Your Teeth?
Brown or yellow discoloring is common, and food or drinks are often the main culprits. However, there are a lot of reasons for staining. A few of the most common causes of teeth stains include:
- Age. With age, your tooth enamel will begin to wear and can cause your teeth to stain.
- Brushing habits. If you’re not following a standard oral hygiene routine of brushing at least twice per day and flossing once per day, it can lead to stains on your teeth. On top of the stains, you’re also at risk of decay and damage to your tooth enamel due to your poor brushing habits.
- Coffee. Your morning cup of coffee may taste good, but when you drink out of a cup, the coffee splashes on your teeth. Tannins in the coffee can stain the teeth, but acid is also a problem. High acidity will soften the enamel, causing tannins to stain the teeth further. Drinking through a straw or drinking water right after to help “wash away” some of the tannins can certainly help.
- Decay. If your teeth have either black or dark stains, it is often a serious form of tooth decay. The decay can get so bad that you get what is known as “tooth pulp necrosis.” At this point, you’ll likely experience significant pain. Maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine and regular visits to the dentist can help.
- Disease or infection. Non-dental issues may also cause your teeth to stain. Infections or diseases are known to cause teeth-related issues, and chemotherapy treatments can make your teeth turn black.
- Tartar. If you have black stains near the gumline of your teeth, this is likely from tartar. Bacteria will have built up at this point, causing the top edge of the tooth to start staining with a black color.
- Tea. If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll want to follow the same advice we have for coffee. Black tea can cause stains, but so can green and other types of tea.
- Tobacco. Smokers can have very significant teeth stains. One study found that over 28% of smokers reported moderate to severe tooth discoloration. Nicotine remains on the teeth, causing the tooth to be yellow and even have a dark orange hue to them. Unfortunately, the front teeth are among the most impacted by smoking. Quitting is the best way to prevent tobacco from staining your teeth.
- Wine. Wine may be enjoyable, but it can also stain your teeth. Reddish teeth stains can occur, and wine will also “stick” to the teeth, much like sugar. If you don’t brush regularly, the wine will be allowed to settle on your teeth and stain them.
Taking preventative measures can help you stop getting teeth stains in the first place.
Tooth Stain Preventative Measures
Ideally, you’ll avoid getting stains on your teeth and won’t need to work on getting rid of them. However, preventative measures should be taken in an attempt to prevent stains. Based on the points above, you should:
Drink Coffee, Tea or Wine Through a Straw
Drinking through a straw, especially a stainless steel one, can help you avoid stains. The straw is positioned past the teeth, so when you drink, the liquid doesn’t splash on them. Of course, it’s a bit different to drink coffee, tea or wine through a straw.
Another option is to drink water after consuming these drinks to help remove the tannins from your teeth.
Proper Dental Care
Maintaining proper dental hygiene is one of the best ways to keep your teeth healthy and white. You'll want to:
- Brush 2 – 3 times per day
- Floss at least once per day
Regular visits to our office for a cleaning and checkup are also advised. A cleaning can help prevent tartar and plaque buildup from occurring. Additionally, if we notice any issues with your teeth during the exam, we can take the appropriate measures to correct them immediately.
Smoking and even drugs can cause your teeth to stain, or worse, loosen and fall out. If you happen to smoke, quitting can help you avoid staining your teeth in the first place.
Unfortunately, there are some reasons why teeth stain that you simply cannot avoid, such as:
However, with the right approach, even teeth whitening, we can still help you remove those pesky stains and restore your beautiful smile in the process.
How to Get Rid of Stains on Your Teeth
Tooth stains cause many people to hide their smiles because they’re embarrassed by the discoloration. However, there are many options to help you get rid of the stains and regain your confidence.
Removing stains is a painless process and something that we can help you with right in our office.
A few of the methods to remove stains include:
Tooth whitening toothpaste is often the first thing our patients try, especially if they have minor stains. These toothpastes will often contain:
- Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate
- Hydrogen peroxide
Slowly and with repeated use, this type of toothpaste can help remove minor stains. However, if you have moderate or severe stains, you won’t see the significant results that you deserve with teeth whitening toothpastes.
Because these toothpaste options are so widely available, there’s no harm in trying them for yourself to see if they help. Studies do show that when compared to non-whitening toothpaste, you’ll see far greater whitening. It's best to avoid charcoal toothpastes because they can cause significant enamel damage.
Gum is an Option
Sugar-free gum is an option that often goes overlooked. You can find a few teeth-whitening gum options, each with varying degrees of effectiveness, which may help with stains. The one thing that is important to note is that this is one of the weakest forms of whitening.
Over time, you may be able to lighten your teeth a single shade or two.
However, it’s an option for those times when you can’t brush or get a drink of water after drinking coffee or wine.
Over-the-counter whitening strips are a good out-of-office option. You can purchase these kits at retail stores or online, and they can provide you with decent results. Strips will remain on your teeth as directed and help whiten your teeth.
Hydrogen peroxide is often the key ingredient in these strips.
You'll apply the strips, often for 30 minutes or so, and they’ll slowly start removing the stains on your teeth. A few issues with these options are:
- Many users find that the solution leaves them with sensitive gums and teeth
- Whitening is often uneven
Since your teeth are not perfectly flat, it’s not uncommon for one area to whiten and another to remain stained. Uneven whitening is a common issue, but these strips will gradually whiten your teeth and get rid of stains.
Dentist at-Home Whitening
At-home whitening is an option we have at our office, and it allows you to use a whitening tray in the comfort of your own home. However, the whitening agent is much stronger than what whitening strips offer, so the results will:
- Occur faster
- Last longer
Take-home trays are an affordable option if Zoom is simply not in your budget. We’ll make a mold, especially for your teeth, and treatment will take place for 10 – 14 total days, for about 30 – 60 minutes per day.
If you’re serious about getting rid of your tooth stains, you may want to consider an in-office procedure. When you’re sitting in the dental chair, we can perform Zoom whitening treatments that are designed to zap stains away and whiten your teeth.
Zoom whitening gives us much greater control over whitening and is an in-house treatment option that we can also adjust. Light may be used to speed up the whitening process and improve the results, too.
Light works its magic by:
- Penetrating the teeth
- Breaking down discoloring and stains
After the procedure, we’ll apply a special gel to your teeth so that we can reduce sensitivity. Entire sessions will last 90-120 minutes, but the results are far superior to the alternative options outlined previously.
Naturally, maintaining good oral hygiene routines will help you prevent stains from occurring in the first place.
It's important to note that whitening is temporary. If you maintain the same eating or brushing habits, there’s a good chance that your stains will come back in the future. Working to follow the tips in this article is advised and can help you get rid of stains and keep them away over the long term.
However, whitening can help you undo the past errors made that led to staining in the first place.
If you’re considering teeth whitening to remove stains or achieve your best smile, we can help.
Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss your options.