Achieving a radiant and healthy smile is a common aspiration shared by many. If you’ve ever wished for whiter teeth but grapple with teeth stains, rest assured, you’re not alone. Teeth discoloration is a prevalent issue affecting a wide range of people due to various reasons. The reassuring news is that most of these stains are treatable and preventable. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide valuable insights and practical tips to maintain and enhance the brightness of your teeth, ensuring your pearly whites remain in optimal condition.
What are teeth stains?
Teeth stains, as the name implies, refer to changes in the color of your teeth. While the natural color of teeth is a light yellow shade, various factors can lead to darkening or developing dark spots. There are three primary types of teeth stains:
1. Extrinsic Stains: These stains result from consuming certain foods, beverages, or tobacco. They affect only the surface of the tooth and can be quickly addressed.
2. Intrinsic Stains: Inside the tooth, intrinsic stains are caused by injury, excessive fluoride content, or certain medications. Over-the-counter products may not effectively treat inherent stains.
3. Age-Related Stains: Developed over time, these stains become more apparent as we age. The natural yellowish color of dentin becomes more visible, making teeth more susceptible to staining from both extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Understanding these types of stains is crucial for effective treatment and prevention.
What causes teeth stains?
Coffee, tea, tobacco, coca-cola, wine, certain medications, and darkly colored foods are the prime culprits that take a toll on your pearly whites. In addition, not brushing and flossing regularly can make the enamel even more vulnerable to staining. The good news is that the yellower your teeth get, the easier it will be to remove these stains.
Some of the most common tooth-staining culprits include:
- Black coffee and tea
- Balsamic vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Tomato sauce and other red sauces
- Blueberries, blackcurrants, blackberries
Smoking is a risk factor for a number of oral diseases. It can lead to oral mucosal lesions, oral cancer, periodontal disease, and consequent tooth loss. However, the most visible dental manifestation is tooth discoloration and the appearance of yellow, brown, or even black stains on teeth. (1)
How do you prevent teeth from getting yellowed?
The best way to avoid getting yellow teeth is by brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing daily, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. In addition, if you consume teeth-staining beverages, consider drinking them with a straw. This way, the liquid won’t get near the front surface of your teeth.
Creating an acidic environment in your mouth can make your enamel more prone to staining (2). An acidic environment can be made through eating acidic food such as soft juices, vinegar, and fruit juices. To prevent creating an acidic environment in your mouth, make sure to drink enough water, brush your teeth and floss regularly. (3)
How to reduce teeth stains?
Reducing teeth stains is all about honing healthy habits. With several simple lifestyle changes, you may easily prevent teeth stains. On top of following these tips, get dental check-ups and cleanings every six months.
1. Brush. Brush. Brush.
We cannot stress enough how important brushing your teeth meticulously after every meal is. Wait for 30 minutes after the meal before brushing your teeth. This will allow your enamel to settle and your saliva to wash away the acids left by the food.
2. Floss daily
By flossing regularly, you’ll get rid of the plaque build-up between the teeth where the stain-causing substances like to gather. This way, your teeth will look healthier and cleaner.
3. Avoid smoking
Not only is smoking dangerous for your health, but it also discolors the teeth. So kick the smoking habit to say hello to nice bright teeth.
4. Avoid teeth-staining food
Try eating less teeth-staining food. Eating green vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, and spinach protects your teeth and prevents staining.
5. Eat crunchy fruits and veggies
Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables that do not stain teeth. For example, cucumbers, apples, and pears are great for your teeth since they help cleanse the stains on the teeth. Other foods that help reduce staining include broccoli, cheese, carrots, celery, pineapple, and raisins.
6. Drink plenty of water
Make sure to drink plenty of water, as it can prevent stains from settling in. So, next time you drink black coffee or tea, remember to drink water afterward to rinse off your teeth.
7. Try using a straw
When you drink beverages that can stain your teeth, use a straw so the liquid does not directly contact the teeth.
8. Limit acidic food consumption
Limit intake of acidic food as it can expose the inner part of the teeth, causing yellowish dentin to appear. So avoid acidic foods as much as possible. If you consume them, sip on some milk after eating, as it helps neutralize the acidity.
9. Brush with baking soda
Baking soda acts as a natural whitening agent and helps remove the stains from the teeth. Today, baking soda constitutes the main ingredient of many major toothpaste brands. Add one teaspoon of baking soda to your regular toothpaste to remove stains.
10. Chew sugarless gum
Chewing sugarless gum removes stains from the teeth since it increases the saliva flow in the mouth. Also, cinnamon-flavored gums contain cinnamic aldehyde that will prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
A study by the School of Dentistry at the University of Alberta found that casein in milk helps prevent teeth staining. Moreover, the addition of milk to tea significantly reduces the ability of tea to stain teeth (4).
What Happens During a Professional Teeth Cleaning?
Despite meticulous at-home teeth cleaning, plaque and tartar inevitably accumulate over time. Regular professional teeth cleanings offer benefits beyond a visibly improved appearance; they enable dentists to detect potential oral health issues before they escalate. Additionally, a teeth cleaning boosts confidence, leaving you with a whiter, minty-fresh smile.
A teeth cleaning procedure is painless and straightforward, typically lasting between 30 minutes and one hour. If you’re apprehensive about professional teeth cleaning, understanding each step in the treatment can help alleviate anxiety.
- A physical exam: You will lie back in a dental chair while the dental hygienist examines your teeth with a small mirror.
- Removing plaque and tartar: A dental professional will remove plaque and tartar with a unique scaler tool.
- Gritty tooth polish: A polishing agent will be applied to your teeth to make them smooth.
- Expert flossing: The dental hygienist will floss your teeth to remove any plaque between your teeth.
- Rinsing: The last step of the cleaning process is a fluoride treatment that will protect your teeth and help fight against cavities.
Tooth discoloration can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons. Over time, our pearly whites become more yellow or gray as a result of the natural aging process and the foods and beverages we consume. Luckily, stains that appear on the surface of your teeth can easily be prevented and removed. Besides practicing good oral hygiene, you can avoid consuming teeth-staining foods and beverages, and drink lots of water. Finally, it is important to get regular teeth cleanings and oral exams to keep your pearly whites healthy and bright.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Why are my teeth yellow?
There are many causes of yellow staining on teeth. Some of the main ones include improper oral hygiene, smoking, or consuming beverages like black tea, coffee, and red wine.
What are the small white spots on my teeth?
These tiny white spots could be a sign that you have a cavity. As tooth decay becomes more advanced, these white spots could turn black. It is essential to visit a dentist because it could eventually destroy your tooth and cause serious complications such as tooth abscess or infection if the cavity is left untreated.
What is the best way to brush my teeth?
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes. Don’t forget to brush the three surfaces -inside, outside, and chewing side.
Do banana peels whiten teeth?
Even though many people on the internet claim that it can do so, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that banana peels do whiten teeth. However, considering a banana peel rub is generally harmless for your teeth, you could try it yourself.
- “Smoking and tooth discoloration: findings from a national cross-sectional study” – Pubmed.gov
- “What causes discolored teeth, and is there any way to cure or prevent staining?” – tufts.edu
- “The key to maintaining proper pH balance in your mouth” – dentalhealthservices.com
- “Prevention of tea-induced extrinsic tooth stain” – pubmed.gov