Teeth Stains: Everything You Need to Know

August 26, 2023

Teeth Stains: Everything You Need to Know

Teeth stains are a common occurrence for many adults and even some children. Fortunately, it is easy for your dentist to determine the underlying causes and restore your teeth to a whiter, healthier appearance.

As people get older, the natural colour of their teeth can change over time due to a variety of reasons. Not to worry, there are several safe, professional options to eliminate teeth stains or discolouration. In this article, Tuxedo Dental Group explains the types and causes of yellow or stained teeth. 

The types of teeth stains

Although there are a wide range of teeth stains and discolouration factors, dental professionals generally categorize them into these three basic types:

  1. Surface (Extrinsic) Teeth Stains
    This type of teeth discolouration occurs on the exterior or surface of your teeth. Residue from food or beverages can build up on your teeth surfaces and cover your tooth enamel. Most commonly, surface/extrinsic teeth stains are caused by tobacco use, certain medications, and/or drinking coffee, tea, red wine, or dark soft drinks (colas) consistently over time. A simple rule of thumb is that if it will stain a white shirt, it has the potential to stain enamel.
  2. Internal (Intrinsic) Teeth Stains
    In some cases, your teeth have a colour that you cannot control. Because enamel is so translucent, the colour of the underlying layer, the dentin, can show through giving the tooth a lemony hue. Certain antibiotics (tetracycline for example) can cause permanent staining if it is ingested during the time the tooth is being created under the gums.
  3. Age-Based Teeth Stains
    Yellow or gray teeth can sometimes develop as people age. Teeth stains that evolve with age are typically a combination of both surface (extrinsic) and internal (intrinsic) discolouration.

Your primary tooth tissue (dentin) has the potential to change colour progressively. The aging process can lead to a thinning of the protective enamel on your teeth, exposing the yellow or gray dentin layer beneath. Add diet and lifestyle factors throughout your lifetime and the potential for tooth discolouration may increase with age. 

Teeth Whitening

Causes of teeth stains
Your teeth may appear to be stained or discoloured for a variety of reasons: 

  • Choices of food and drink
  • Quality and effectiveness of your oral hygiene
  • Health conditions
  • Medications
  • Lifestyle/habits

There is also the potential for deeper causes that involve changes to your tooth structure. The following common causes help you better understand how they can lead to yellow teeth.

Foods and drinks
Dark beverages tend to be a major culprit for teeth stains. 

  • Coffee and tea
  • Colas and other dark sodas 
  • Dark fruit juices
  • Red wine

Some foods also contain stain-promoting qualities, including certain fruits and vegetables such as berries, beets, and tomato-based sauces, as well as curry, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Even chocolate can cause staining.

Avoiding high quantities of stain-causing foods and beverages can help reduce tooth discolouration. Brushing your teeth or even simply rinsing your mouth following each meal is also helpful for removing food and beverage residue. 

In fact, not brushing often enough can be another potential cause of teeth stains.

Your oral health care routine
The quality, consistency, and effectiveness of your oral care routine can have an impact on teeth stains. For example, a poor or inconsistent brushing habit could potentially allow stain-causing substances to remain on your tooth surfaces.

Stain-producing residue has the potential to do more damage the longer it remains on your teeth. Consistent brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth (following the ingestion of food or drinks) may lower your risk of teeth stains.

Disease and medications
There are diseases that can have a direct impact on your tooth enamel (the hard, exterior, protective surface) causing tooth discolouration. Your tooth’s dentin (the structure beneath your tooth enamel) may also be affected in a similar way. 

Ask your Winnipeg dentist at Tuxedo Dental Group about those specific diseases. 

Common medications such as antibiotics, antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, and antipsychotic prescriptions have been shown to be a potential cause of teeth stains. 

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Other teeth stain causes

  • Some dental materials such as amalgam-based restorations (containing silver sulfide) can sometimes create a gray tint on your teeth.
  • Family genetics might contribute to teeth stains if your tooth enamel is brighter or thicker than average.
  • Environmental causes, such as large amounts of fluoride in water supplies, may be a cause, as well as mouth rinses or toothpastes containing high fluoride content.
  • Trauma that affects your tooth enamel (e.g., a fall or tooth fracture) when your teeth are developing can lead to tooth discolouration in adulthood. 

The good news is that there are safe, professional options for the removal of teeth stains.

Teeth whitening solutions for yellow teeth
The process of whitening your teeth begins with understanding that the most commonly used teeth whitening solutions work best on extrinsic (surface) teeth stains. Intrinsic (internal) teeth stains can also be removed. To do so typically requires a product containing peroxide, which may increase teeth sensitivity following application.

Because over-the-counter teeth whitening solutions may be ineffective at best or harmful at worst, it is always our recommendation to rely on a dental professional for the safest, most efficient teeth whitening. These two supervised options are typically used by dentists to remove teeth stains with optimum results:

  1. Professional in-office teeth whitening
    A professional teeth whitening procedure is designed to provide fast results. The professional supervision of your dentist helps assure that your teeth stains are eliminated safely without the complications that are common with over-the-counter whitening treatment.
  • Professional teeth whitening usually begins with an oral examination to confirm that your teeth and gums are healthy and will benefit from the treatment.
  • Tooth shades are typically discussed prior to beginning the procedure.
  • Your teeth will be prepared to help assure the whitening solution will adequately coat all visible tooth surfaces.
  • Following the application and “curing” process, it is recommended that you avoid stain-producing foods and beverages for at least 24 hours. 
  • An at-home follow-up kit may be offered to help you maintain your new, whiter teeth.
  1. Professional at-home teeth whitening
    If you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, your dentist may be able to provide you with a supervised, professional, at-home teeth whitening treatment kit, under their professional supervision.
  • Similar to an in-office whitening procedure, treatment often begins with an oral examination to determine if the at-home kit will be effective for removing your teeth stains.
  • Custom-fitted whitening trays will be created from impressions of your teeth.
  • When your trays are completed and delivered you will be instructed on how to use your at-home whitening treatment. 

Use caution when utilizing whitening toothpastes. Some may contain  abrasive beads of silica in the paste that over time  may wear your enamel down \ which can contribute to  creating   yellower teeth. 

Whether in the dental office or at home, with professional teeth whitening treatment, it is possible to experience the removal of unattractive teeth stains. Natural-looking, whiter teeth can boost your confidence and motivate you to maintain your oral health.

Trust your teeth stains to Tuxedo Dental Group 

Our team of dental professionals has the knowledge and expertise to recommend the most effective, safest possible procedures to treat your discoloured or yellow teeth. 

Contact your dentist in Winnipeg at Tuxedo Dental Group about teeth stains treatment.

Schedule your next dental check-up and request information about teeth whitening solutions.