If you’re worried about stains on your teeth or simply want to learn more about teeth whitening, consider this post your guide. We’ll review common causes of teeth staining, how you can help prevent teeth stains, and review teeth whitening treatments. Let’s get started!

What causes teeth staining?

The most common causes of tooth staining are: 

  • Coffee and tea
  • Medications and antibiotics
  • Tobacco 
  • Getting older (more on this below!) 
  • Poor dental hygiene 

However, a lot of things — even the way you eat — contribute to teeth staining. Some of the most common foods that stain teeth include: 

  • Dark or highly pigmented sauces like soy sauce, tomato sauce, and curry 
  • Sports drinks 
  • Energy drinks 
  • Red wine
  • Berries
  • Soda

Types of teeth staining

There are three different types of teeth stains: extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related. 

1. Extrinsic teeth staining

Extrinsic stains happen when residue from food or beverages stain the surface of the tooth, called the enamel. Enamel is the protective coating on your teeth. Extrinsic tooth stains are common for coffee and tea drinkers, wine drinkers, soda drinkers, and tobacco users. This type of stain is usually treatable through regular 6-month dental exams or teeth whitening toothpaste. Professional whitening may be required for more deep-set stains. 

2. Intrinsic teeth staining

Intrinsic teeth staining happens when stains make their way past the enamel, below the surface of the tooth. This affects the dense tissue at the center of our teeth, called dentin. Dentin naturally looks more yellow, but intrinsic staining can also cause the tooth to appear gray. 

Common causes of intrinsic staining include: 

  • Certain medications and antibiotics 
  • Too much fluoride at a young age
  • Tooth injury or trauma 
  • Tooth decay 

Once your teeth are intrinsically stained, it becomes very difficult to remove the discoloration with over-the-counter or professional teeth whitening treatments. Cosmetic treatments such as veneers or dental bonding are common options for fixing intrinsic stains.       

3. Age-related teeth staining

Did you know that our teeth naturally discolor as we get older? This happens for a couple of reasons: 

  • As we age, the dentin in our teeth begins to yellow naturally and show through on our teeth  
  • Additionally, our tooth enamel becomes thinner as we get older, allowing foods and beverages to more easily stain the outside of the tooth 

This combination of extrinsic and intrinsic teeth staining leads to tooth discoloration for most older adults. 

Unsure about what type of teeth staining you have and what treatment option is best for you? Damonte Ranch Dental Care can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Waring. He’ll work with you to make your dream of a whiter smile a reality!

5 tips for preventing teeth staining

Tip #1: Brush your teeth after eating pigmented or acidic foods and beverages 

If you’re about to devour the last of your summer blackberries or enjoy your favorite pasta dish, it’s a good idea to brush your teeth afterwards. Because teeth usually stain due to dark pigments, or when acid found in food or beverages breaks down the enamel barrier of the tooth, the sooner you can remove that pigment and acid from your teeth, the better.

Tip #2: Drink water 

Drinking water immediately after consuming teeth-staining foods or beverages is an easy way to help remove some of the coloring before it has time to set into the teeth. Another option is to rinse your mouth with water within 30 minutes of eating. This helps to wash away leftover residue and leaves less time for acid to sit on your teeth. 

Tip #3: Limit the amount of teeth-staining foods you consume 

This one is simple — the less you consume teeth staining foods and drinks, the less chance they will have to stain your teeth. 

Tip #4: Use a reusable straw when consuming acidic beverages 

Straws are a great way to avoid some tooth stains because they keep beverages from making direct contact with your teeth. The next time you take a sip of soda, try positioning the straw towards the back of the mouth. The idea is to sip in a way that avoids contact as much as possible with the teeth. 

Plus, if you have a reusable straw handy and decide to use it while drinking water too, you’ll likely drink more water! Staying hydrated is an easy way to boost your oral health. 

Tip #5: Quit smoking & vaping

Tobacco stains your teeth when you smoke or chew it.

How to remove teeth stains

Kind of like an oil stain on your favorite t-shirt, once tooth stains are there, they can be difficult to remove. Thankfully, there are a number of treatments available to help make your teeth appear whiter.

1. Over the counter teeth whitening strips and toothpaste

You’ve probably noticed the seemingly endless options of teeth whitening solutions available to you in the dental hygiene aisle at the grocery store. Two of the most common over-the-counter options are: 

  • Teeth whitening strips or kits – These flexible strips contain a thin, low dose layer of a peroxide gel that works to dissolve the stains off of your teeth. 
  • Teeth whitening toothpastes – Whitening toothpastes typically contain abrasives that work to polish teeth and scrub off surface stains.

If you decide to go the over-the-counter route, it’s still a good idea to check in with your dentist beforehand to ensure you choose the best option and know how to correctly use the treatment. When used incorrectly, teeth whitening strips and toothpastes can lead to tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. 

2. “Go” whitening (disposable trays)

“Go” teeth whitening is a fast and efficient way to achieve teeth whitening results. At Damonte Ranch Dental Care, we use a specially formulated 10-day peroxide gel treatment that is non-invasive and takes about 15 minutes per treatment. It’s fast, easy, powerful, and effective. 

3. Custom home whitening trays

Here’s how this method works at Damonte Ranch Dental Care: 

  • Dr. Waring creates a custom-fit tray designed specifically for your mouth 
  • You take the trays home and fill them with a special whitening gel
  • The tight fit of your custom mouth tray will ensure the gel stays in place on your teeth and works its magic! You should see results within the first 2 weeks. 

As an added benefit, the whitening gel works double duty, not only whitening your teeth but actually helping to prevent cavities by strengthening your tooth enamel.

Want whiter teeth? Dr. Waring can help

It’s our goal to help anyone who visits our Reno, NV office achieve the healthy and bright smile they’ve always wanted. Not only is Dr. Waring committed to providing a gentle and friendly approach, he offers the latest technology in teeth whitening treatments and a customized, patient-centered approach. Your smile will be brighter in no time. 

Schedule your appointment online or call us at (775) 329-8886 today!