Before you can prevent teeth staining, you need to establish what is causing the staining. Sometimes it may be caused by the internal structure of the tooth, or other times, it may be caused by exterior causes.

Internal Stains

Internal stains (intrinsic), may be caused from the condition of the tooth, or perhaps from prior dental fillings. If you have had a root canal, or a tooth replaced, the tooth color may differ from your natural teeth.

External Stains

External stains are sometimes caused from certain foods or beverages you eat and drink. There may be defects on the external surface of your tooth that is more inclined to increase accumulation of stains. Foods that frequently cause staining are red wine, tea, and coffee.  Use of tobacco and poor oral hygiene habits also cause staining.

Check your mouthwash, if it contains chlorhexidine, or cetylpyridium chloride, it may be causing your discoloration, if used for a long time. Some topical medications have certain ingredients that can cause teeth staining. If your toothpaste contains stannous fluoride, if might be the cause of some brown discoloration.

Reduced saliva may also cause external staining, since saliva helps remove food debris from tooth surfaces. Dryness of your mouth may be caused by reduced salivary gland obstructions, radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer or other medications.

Causes of Teeth Staining

Your dentist can help determine what is causing your teeth staining. A dentist can inspect your teeth to determine if the discoloration, or staining, is caused from external or internal problems. Colors that indicate external staining include, brown, black or gray, but they also might be yellow, green or orange. External staining can be eliminated by polishing. Internal discoloration can be pink or red. If your dentist checks your teeth under ultraviolet light, they may appear fluoresce yellow, from tetracycline antibiotics. If you have only a single tooth that is discolored, it may be an internal stain, caused from root canal disease.

Staining Treatments

Your dentist can recommend a proper therapy once he or she has identified the cause and type of staining. If drugs are causing mouth dryness, medical treatment may be necessary.

There are many different treatment choices…

  • Habits and diet may need to be changed, eliminated, or modified. Use of tobacco or certain foods and beverages, may need to be excluded, if they are the cause of teeth staining.
  • Most toothpastes help prevent external staining if used twice daily. Many contain tooth-whitening and anti-tartar ingredients to help prevent discoloration.
  • Some external stains require professional tooth cleaning and polishing. They may be removed with ultrasonic cleaning along with an abrasive paste or an air-jet technique with an abrasive powder. This may be referred to as “micro-abrasion” and may sometimes be used with bleaching.
  • If your teeth are discolored from fillings or restorations, it may require the removal of decay, followed by tooth repair. Although your dentist uses properly placed and handled material, it is still prone to plaque accumulation and staining.
  • A fairly safe and easy way to brighten stained teeth is bleaching, which is used for many types of tooth discoloration. Vital bleaching is performed on “vital” teeth, where the discoloration is usually external and there are living nerves. This technique can be performed in-office or at home. Non-vital bleaching is used to treat stains associated with root canal treatment and is only performed as an in-office procedure.

Always discuss your concerns with your dentist. Follow his or her advice to achieve the results for a bright and happy smile.

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About Tri-State Family Dentistry

Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.