Teeth discoloration – Causes and effective ways of teeth whitening

Teeth discoloration – Causes and effective ways of teeth whitening

Teeth discoloration can happen due to a varied range of reasons. Usually, the core reasons include poor oral hygiene, consumption of tobacco, and the use of certain medicines. Thankfully, most of the stains on the teeth are curable and preventable. However, for that, you must know what causes teeth discoloration, what are the different types of stains, and what are the effective ways of teeth whitening that can help you keep your pearly whites shining. So, here’s everything you must know about teeth discoloration.

Different kinds of staining
The discoloration of teeth can be categorized under three types: intrinsic, extrinsic, and the one related to aging.

Intrinsic tooth discoloration
With this type of tooth discoloration, the stain is often located in the tooth. This makes it difficult to remove the discoloration with the help of teeth whitening products that are available over the counter. The stain appears to be grayish. The causes of intrinsic tooth stains can include:

  • Certain types of medicines
  • Injury or trauma caused to the tooth
  • Decay in the tooth
  • Excessive fluoride
  • Genes

Extrinsic tooth discoloration
In this type of tooth discoloration, the stain is usually found on the tooth enamel or it only affects the tooth surface. This type of discoloration is usually caused due:

  • Certain kinds of beverages
  • Certain types of foods
  • Tobacco use

Age-related discoloration
With aging, it is common for the tooth enamel to wear out. This results in a yellow appearance on the teeth. In many people, age-related teeth discoloration is a result of both intrinsic as well as extrinsic factors.

Causes of tooth discoloration
Various foods and drinks that we consume, aging, and any injuries to the teeth can cause tooth discoloration.

Discoloration due to tobacco, foods, and drinks
Certain kinds of foods and drinks that can reach the outermost layers of the tooth and cause staining. Foods and drinks that usually cause staining are:

  • Red wine
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Red sauces
  • Tea

Chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes can also lead to tooth discoloration. A clinical research showed that tooth discoloration is more common in smokers as compared to non-smokers. Also, in a research, it was found that due to the discoloration and overall appearance of the teeth, smokers are more dissatisfied with the way they look.

Discoloration of teeth due to aging, medicines, and injuries
Aging makes the teeth more brittle. This results in discoloration or staining of the teeth.

In cases, where tooth discoloration is caused due to an injury, the staining or darkening will only be restricted to the damaged tooth.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also found a link between the consumption of certain types of antibiotics as children and permanent discoloration of teeth. Therefore, if you had been taking antibiotics as a child, you must find out which medication you were consuming to get a better idea.

Causes of staining based on the color

The causes of staining can also be determined by the color of the teeth. The color of the stain can help in determining the cause of the discoloration to a large extent.

Yellow discoloration
Smoking and chewing tobacco are the most common causes of yellow staining on the teeth. Apart from these, other factors that can lead to yellow discoloration include:

  • Drinking certain beverages, such as coffee, tea, and red wine
  • Having a diet, which has a high sugar content
  • Taking some types of medications
  • Maintaining poor dental hygiene
  • Having a dry mouth which turns chronic

Brown discoloration
The appearance of brown spots on the teeth can be due to various reasons. These include:

  • Consuming tobacco
  • Drinking beverages such as soda, red wine, coffee, and tea
  • Eating certain fruits such as pomegranates, blackberries, and blueberries
  • Having tooth decay, which remains untreated
  • Having a buildup of tartar

White spots on the teeth
These spots are usually caused by a cavity, which makes them look darker as time progresses. In some cases, excessive fluoride can also lead to the appearance of white spots on the teeth.

Black stains or spots on the teeth

There are various causes of black stains or spots. These include:

  • A dental cavity that has advanced
  • Tooth crowns or fillings that have silver sulfide
  • Supplements for liquid iron

Purple discoloration
A purple tone to the teeth is usually seen in people who drink red wine regularly.

Prevention of tooth discoloration
Thankfully, with some healthy lifestyle habits and better oral hygiene, you can prevent discoloration of your teeth. To prevent teeth discoloration, you must:

  • Ensure good teeth hygiene after eating certain foods
    If your meal consists of pigmented foods or drinks, you must brush and floss your teeth soon after you have finished eating or drinking. If that is not an option, you can simply clean your mouth by swishing some water. This will help you remove the particles which, if left, can later stain your teeth.
  • Practise good oral hygiene
    Your oral hygiene routine must comprise brushing your teeth at least thrice a day, flossing your teeth daily, cleaning with a water flosser, and using a mouthwash or a whitening toothpaste. With the use of water flossers and mouth rinses, you can reduce the chances of getting stains between your teeth and even remove the ones that you have.
  • Change your lifestyle habits
    If you are a regular smoker or a tobacco addict, you must speak to your doctor about changing these habits. They can put you on a program, which will help you quit the habit. Also, you should reduce the consumption of foods and beverages that can cause staining of your teeth. If you cannot avoid these foods and beverages, you must make sure that you keep a toothbrush handy to keep the stain-causing particles away from your mouth.

When should you see a dentist?
If you have noticed discoloration of your teeth and no teeth whitening products can improve the situation, you should see a dentist. In cases where the staining does not go away with the use of regular over-the-counter teeth whitening products, there could be a more serious underlying problem that could be causing the discoloration. It can include demineralized tooth enamel or a cavity.

If discoloration can be seen in only one tooth, it can be a result of an injury or a cavity. Therefore, you must see a dentist soon for the timely treatment of these problems.

Even if you haven’t been experiencing any oral problems, you must visit a dentist at least twice a year and get a routine examination done. Having these routine check-ups often help people discover oral problems, which they never thought they had. It can help in preventing these easily treatable problems from becoming more severe or complicated.

Teeth whitening treatments
There are several teeth whitening treatments that are easily available at a pharmacy or can be taken from a dentist. The various teeth whitening products and systems are perfect for people who have healthy teeth and mouth and there is no underlying condition causing the discoloration.

The various teeth whitening products are:

  • Teeth whitening toothpastes
    All toothpastes contain some level of abrasives; therefore, all of them help in removing stains from the teeth. However, most of them contain only mild abrasives. Teeth whitening toothpastes come with extra chemical agents or polishing that help remove stains more effectively.
  • Whitening gels and strips
    Peroxide gels are used for teeth whitening and can be applied directly to the surface of the teeth using a small brush. However, reading the instructions carefully before applying the gel is important. The initial results of the gel can be noticed in a few days. Whitening strips are thin while peroxide-coated whitening strips are not visible easily. To apply the strips perfectly, follow the instructions on the label. You will be able to notice the initial results of the treatment in a few days.
  • Mouth rinses
    These remove plaque, reduce the chances of gum diseases, and freshen up the breath. However, what’s different in these whitening rinses is that they also contain hydrogen peroxide, which makes them an effective treatment option for teeth whitening. The results can be seen in about 12 weeks, as claimed by the manufacturers. To use these mouthwashes, you just have to rinse your mouth with them for one minute. You must do this at least twice a day prior to brushing the teeth.
  • Tray-based whiteners
    These tooth whiteners can be purchased from a chemist or even from a dentist. This treatment involves wearing a guard, which resembles a tray on the teeth. The tray is filled with a bleaching agent in a gel form. You will have to wear the tray for a particular duration. It can vary between wearing it for a few hours a day to wearing it throughout the night every day. In some cases, the tray might also have to be in the mouth for four weeks or even longer than that. The duration depends on the level of discoloration and to what extent you wish to whiten your teeth.

Natural ways to whiten your teeth
Various products can be used for teeth whitening. However, most of them contain bleach, which could be a problem for some people. Therefore, if you do not wish to use any chemicals, there are several natural options too that you can use for teeth whitening. These include:

  • Oil pulling
    This is a traditional remedy, which helps in improving and maintaining good oral hygiene. To do this, all you have to do is swish some oil in your mouth. Doing this removes all the harmful bacteria from the mouth, which can later become the cause for plaque and tooth discoloration. Sesame or sunflower oil is usually used in this technique. However, any oil works fine. Many people pick coconut oil over other oils since it is loaded with several health benefits and has a good taste. Use one tablespoon of any oil and put it in your mouth. Now make the oil pull through the space between your teeth. Continue doing this for 15 to 20 minutes. If you are using coconut oil, you might want to wait for a few seconds for it to melt down since it can solidify at room temperature.
  • Baking soda
    Baking soda comes with natural whitening properties, which makes it a common ingredient in toothpastes. Brushing your teeth with baking soda can help you remove stains from the teeth surface. Also, baking soda can create an alkaline environment in the mouth, which can be beneficial in preventing the growth of bacteria. However, brushing your teeth with baking soda will not give you any overnight results. You will have to follow this remedy for a while to see the change in the color of your teeth.
  • Apple cider vinegar
    Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which can prove to be beneficial in killing the bacteria in the mouth. The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar make it an effective remedy for cleansing of the mouth and teeth whitening. As apple cider vinegar is acidic, it has the potential to harm the tooth enamel. So, make sure that you do not use it regularly. Also, limit the amount of vinegar that you use in one go. Use it as a mouthwash by diluting it with water. Swish the solution in your mouth for a few minutes. Use plain water to wash your mouth after you have used vinegar mouthwash.

Apart from these natural remedies, you must follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Some fruits that you must include in your diet include pineapple and strawberries, as these help to whiten the teeth,

Pearly white teeth can certainly enhance your smile and speak volumes about your personality. Thus, you must follow the above-mentioned teeth whitening solutions if your teeth are discolored.

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