4 Top Things That Cause Tooth Discoloration and How to Whiten Your Teeth

What causes tooth discoloration

As we age, our teeth start losing their natural whiteness and brightness. And while this is a normal process and to be expected, there are things we can do to control the amount of whiteness we lose. Also, avoiding some of the things that accelerate tooth yellowing can help keep your mouth healthy. After all, we all smile more often when our teeth are bright, white, and welcoming to others. 

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

If your teeth have lost their whiteness and taken on a yellow color, you may feel less like smiling than you did before. Many people with discolored teeth feel embarrassed about what their teeth look like and make conscious decisions to either not smile or smile with their mouths closed. However, the very act of smiling is important to our overall well-being

Knowing what you can do to prevent tooth yellowing can help protect your smile for years. And understanding the two types of discoloration—intrinsic vs. extrinsic—is integral.

Intrinsic Discoloration

These stains come from within the tooth itself. Common causes include:

  • Dental injuries.
  • Too much fluoride as a child.
  • Excessive use of various antibiotics.
  • Genetics and family history.
  • Various medical conditions.

Extrinsic Discoloration

These stains originate on the surface of your teeth. Common culprits include:

  • Chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes or cigars.
  • Drinking coffee or tea.
  • Drinking caramel-colored sodas or red wine.
  • Red berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or pomegranate. 
  • Eating beets, carrots, or curries.

Things you can do to present tooth discoloration. 

1. Prevent dental trauma.

According to a National Library of Medicine study, 86.8% of participants had experienced tooth discoloration due to dental trauma. These accidents can stem from sports injuries, a trip or fall, or a blow to the face. But some of these accidents and the resulting dental injuries and tooth discoloration can be avoided. If you are active in contact sports, wearing a custom-fit mouthguard as your dentist prescribes can help.

2. Limit consumption of tea, coffee, red wine, and berries.

We know you’re probably disappointed that you can no longer get that caffeine jolt from your morning coffee. Or, you may no longer be able to look to that relaxing afternoon tea to improve your digestion before dinner. You might even be sighing in annoyance that you won’t be able to indulge in that strawberry shortcake for dessert.

But even though tea, coffee, red wine, and certain berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and pomegranate seeds can stain your teeth, it doesn’t mean you must avoid them altogether. Here are some tips to help you prevent discoloration from these items you love.

  • Consume these items with a glass of water. Drinking water can help wash away the tannins in these foods that like to stain the porous surfaces of your teeth.
  • Brush your teeth 30 to 60 minutes after eating berries. Consider flossing, too, to help remove any seeds that have become lodged between your teeth.
  • Enjoy these items in moderation. As with anything, moderation is key. If you enjoy red berries with your dinner one night, have some apple slices or orange segments the next. Pair a glass of white wine on your next night out with your favorite flaky white fish or lean chicken breast instead of the red wine. 

3. Speak to your doctor about side effects from certain medications.

Unfortunately, some things we do to protect our overall health, like taking medications to manage pain or treat chronic illnesses, can negatively affect our oral health. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing tooth discoloration and taking one of these medications: 

  • Antihistamines. 
  • Antibiotics, such as tetracycline.
  • Anti-hypertension medication, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, heart rhythm medications, and diuretics.

Different medications may be available to treat your ailment without the same side effects. Whatever you do, never cease using a medication without checking with your primary care physician.

4. Cut down (or cut out) tobacco usage.

One of the biggest culprits contributing to extrinsic tooth discoloration is smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco. This happens because the nicotine and tar in cigarettes and tobacco products seep into the tiny pores in your dental enamel. The tar creates a brown tinge on your teeth, and the nicotine and the air we breathe cause yellowing. If you are a tobacco user, talk to your doctor about how to quit safely. Not only will this help prevent further discoloration of your teeth, but it will also help protect your heart and lungs.

Teeth Whitening To Reverse Tooth Discoloration 

If your teeth are not as white as you would like, you might want to look into tooth-whitening systems to remove those stains. How treatable your condition is will depend on whether you have intrinsic or extrinsic tooth discoloration. Extrinsic discoloration is the most treatable. At Davis Family Dental Care, we recommend the following approaches to tooth whitening.

  1. KӧR tooth whitening system. This whitening system uses a patented whitening gel placed inside custom trays that fit neatly into your mouth. Prescribed by your dentist, it’s safe, easy, and highly effective. Not only that, this treatment can be done from the comfort and convenience of your home. Professional whitening can more effectively and safely remove tooth stains than any treatment you can purchase at your local convenience store.
  2. Drink through a straw. If you enjoy a soda or other staining beverages, consider drinking through a straw when possible. This keeps the liquids from coming into contact with the porous surfaces of your teeth and will help maintain the whiteness of your teeth after using the KӧR tooth whitening system.
  3. Drink plenty of water. As a rule, we should consume between four and six cups of water per day to keep our bodies well-hydrated. But this water can also help rinse away the staining agents in our favorite foods and beverages, preventing any discoloration. So if you want to consume the culprits we mentioned, keep a glass of water nearby.

Discuss your tooth discoloration concerns with the team at Davis Family Dental Care. 

Whether you are overdue for your dental cleaning or want to discuss ways to achieve a whiter smile, we can help you with tooth whitening in Bedford, TX. Request an appointment today so we can help you whiten your teeth the best way and protect your teeth and oral health for the years to come.