What a STAIN!

added on: January 10, 2017

Stain is a main concern for many people, especially when it comes to their teeth. There are many things that cause staining, ways to prevent staying, different types of stain, and ways to remove or eliminate the stain or stain appearance.

Two different types of stain include intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic stain is on the enamel surface and can be removed easily. Intrinsic stain is stain deeper into the tooth structure. Aging also may contribute to staining.

Extrinsic stain may be caused by dark fruits like berries or vegetables like beets. It can be caused by beverages including wine, dark juices, coffee, tea, chocolate milk, smoothies with dark berries, popsicles/slushies, and dark sodas. Smoking is also a contributor to staining, either with cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Other causes of stain may include: soy sauce, tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, dark caramel and food colorings and some periodontal mouth rinses.

Intrinsic stain can be caused from current medications and passed antibiotic use during the development of teeth. Being exposed to too much fluoride as a child, your mother used tetracycline during the second half of pregnancy, trauma and internal bleeding are several other reasons teeth may have an intrinsic stain. Dentinogenesis imperfecta is a rare tooth condition that may contribute to intrinsic staining as well.

Age related can cause thinning of the enamel (causing some dentin or second layer of the tooth to become exposed—dentin color can be yellow, orange or even brown in color). Dry mouth can contribute to less enamel protection. Dry mouth is a symptom of a multitude of medications and at times, aging.

Extrinsic stain can be removed from a cleaning your get at your dental office or by bleaching. Bleaching includes in-office treatments and over the counter options.

Intrinsic stain removal involves more dentistry including crowns, veneers and bonding.

Some ways to prevent staining include:

Limit or avoid stain causing drinks and foods.

  1. Chewing on hard foods like apples, celery, pears, carrots and hard cheeses.
  2. Chewing sugarless gum to increase saliva flow.
  3. Drinking dark colored beverages through a straw.
  4. Using a whitening toothpaste to help prevent or remove surface stain.
  5. Rinse with water after consuming stain foods and beverages.
  6. More frequent cleanings at the dental office.
  7. Daily maintenance including brushing, getting in between the teeth, mouth rinse and tongue cleaner use (the tongue can stain too!)
  8. Electric toothbrush use.
  9. Adding milk to tea or coffee

If it can stain a white cotton shirt, it can stain the teeth as well.

Do NOT brush immediately after consuming dark beverages. Nearly all of the beverages mentioned above are acidic and brushing right after can actually spread the acid over the teeth. Rinse with water first, and brush soon after.

During your next routine visit ask the hygienist their opinion on the color of your teeth, especially if your smile doesn’t make YOU smile. There are different options for each specific person depending on positioning of teeth, color of teeth, restorations in teeth and current or past causes for staining. Discussing the options with your hygienist or dentist can help educate you and get you headed in the right direction, providing you with yet another reason to smile.

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