Tooth Discoloration and Stains – Causes, Treatment, and Prevention


One of the most common dental issues people face is the staining and discoloration of teeth, which can be socially embarrassing and negatively impact your self-esteem and confidence. While tooth discoloration can happen for several reasons, the good news is that you can treat and prevent them without too much effort and expense.

Different Types of Tooth Staining

One can categorize dental staining and discoloration into three broad categories; external, internal, and age-related.

Extrinsic tooth discoloration happens at the superficial level. Usually, the staining happens due to the consumption of colored food and drink or tobacco. The location of intrinsic stains is within the tooth over-the-counter tooth whitening products are ineffective. This type of staining can happen due to certain medications, tooth decay, tooth injury, excessive fluoride, and genetics. According to blue cedar dentistry, your teeth can also experience discoloration due to advancing age because of the wearing away of the enamel, resulting in a yellowish appearance.

Common Causes of Tooth Staining

Food and drink: Certain food and drink can permeate through the tooth’s outer layers, resulting in staining. These include tea, coffee, red wines and sauces, and chocolate.

Tobacco: Consuming tobacco in any form, smoking, or chewing can result in discolored teeth due to the effect of the chemicals and the creation of a more acidic oral environment, making your enamel prone to discoloration.

Antibiotics, injuries, and age: According to Medical News Today, children prescribed tetracycline in childhood may experience permanent tooth discoloration. If you injure your tooth, you may find that tooth discoloring. Tooth discoloration due to age is a cumulative effect of extrinsic and intrinsic factors wearing away the tooth enamel.

Treating Tooth Staining

You can broadly classify options for teeth whitening into three categories.

In-office: Compared to at-home products, the dentist treating a patient in-office will use a higher concentration of whitening chemicals like hydrogen peroxide. The benefit is the speed and the longer duration of the effect.

At-home by the dentist: Some dentists treat patients at home using custom trays. Patients have to add gel to the tray and wear it for as long as the dentist recommends, typically an hour. You may need to continue the treatment for several weeks to achieve the desired effect.

OTC products: You can experiment with many OTC teeth whitening products comprising strips and toothpaste. They reduce surface stains, but they are usually ineffective in intrinsic stains. You should consult your dentist before trying out any product at home because some products can irritate your gums or cause tooth sensitivity. You will still need to visit your dentist periodically to ensure your teeth are stain-free.


If you notice any discoloration of your teeth, you can try out an OTC product at home, but if you do not get satisfactory results, you should visit your dentist. Deep and stubborn stains may be due to a more serious underlying condition like enamel demineralization or cavities. Visiting your dentist twice a year for a checkup is a good idea. Additionally, you should brush and floss your teeth, rinse your mouth after every meal, quit smoking, and cut back on colored food and drinks that stain teeth.

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