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Teeth stains are discolorations of the teeth that a toothbrush can’t easily remove. They can look yellow, white, brown, green, and purple.
Many people develop some type of tooth stain at some point. Discoloration can affect the surface (extrinsic) or the interior of the teeth (intrinsic), depending on various factors, including:
Though they can be a source of embarrassment, tooth stains typically aren’t harmful.
Learn about the safest ways to whiten your teeth.
There are three types of tooth discoloration, which include:
Extrinsic staining, sometimes called external staining, is staining on the surface of a tooth. It occurs when tinted residue builds up on your teeth, commonly from tobacco use or dark foods and beverages such as:
Avoiding smoking and excessive consumption of these foods can help prevent extrinsic staining. However, some environmental factors may also contribute to extrinsic staining, including antibiotics and metals such as iron or copper.
Intrinsic or internal staining occurs when pigmented particles seep under the tooth's surface. If allowed to accumulate in the enamel, they will cause discoloration.
Intrinsic stains are commonly found in children and people who use excessive fluoride. Other factors may also influence it, including:
Removing intrinsic staining goes beyond professional cleaning or teeth whitening. It requires a dental restoration like a veneer, crown, or internal bleaching.
The core tissue of the teeth, known as dentin, yellows over time. As you age, the enamel on teeth surfaces becomes thinner, allowing the dentin to show through.
A combined accumulation of intrinsic and extrinsic causes of discoloration will result in teeth staining in older adults. Without prevention or treatment, extrinsic factors are more likely to cause discoloration in older people.
Tooth stains come in many colors, each with its common causes. If your teeth are stained, you can usually determine the cause based on the color.
Yellow stains often come from lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use and a sugar-heavy diet.
Common factors that cause yellow teeth stains include:
Brown stains may occur from lifestyle factors or poor oral hygiene. If you have brown discoloration on your teeth, it could be from:
Though they can come from what you eat or drink, purple stains may also have a more concerning underlying cause.
Common factors that cause purple teeth stains include:
White stains or spots on the teeth may be a sign of early decay. They can also come from excessive fluoride use.
You should consult a dentist if you have white stains on your teeth.
See NewMouth’s top 10 teeth whitening products of 2022.
There are several ways you can alleviate tooth discoloration, including:
You can often decrease tooth staining by keeping your mouth clean and healthy. The best practices for oral hygiene to remove stains are:
LED teeth whitening uses a blue LED light and hydrogen peroxide to bleach teeth. These two elements can cause a chemical reaction that quickly and effectively whitens teeth.
NewMouth recommends at-home LED whitening kits over other teeth whitening methods because of their effectiveness, ease of use, and minimal side effects.
LED teeth whitening is safe and effective when users follow the manufacturer's protocols. After you whiten at home, avoid drinks that cause stains, particularly red wine, tea, and dark sodas.
Natural teeth whitening products use all-natural ingredients (such as essential oils and botanicals) to whiten the teeth. They don’t contain toxins, peroxide, artificial ingredients, or alcohol.
Some natural remedies for tooth whitening include:
Many natural treatments have limited evidence supporting their effectiveness and can have adverse side effects. Always talk to your dentist before trying a DIY or natural whitening treatment.
A licensed dentist can perform professional teeth whitening in their office. Professional teeth whitening involves a hydrogen peroxide solution and heat or light to accelerate the process.
It has an average cost of $650, which can be expensive. However, professional teeth whitening is the most effective treatment for intrinsic staining and highly discolored teeth.
The best way to prevent extrinsic tooth stains is to avoid smoking and practice excellent oral hygiene, especially after consuming dark foods and beverages.
Other ways to keep your teeth white include:
Tooth stains are discolorations of the teeth that you can’t brush away. It’s common to have tooth stains, especially as you age. They typically aren’t harmful.
The three types of tooth discoloration are extrinsic (on the tooth's surface), intrinsic (below the surface), and age-related. The causes for these stains include consumption of dark food and beverages, tobacco use, medications, and genetics.
You can prevent and remove stains by quitting smoking and practicing good oral hygiene. If your teeth are already stained, use at-home whitening products or visit your dentist for professional teeth whitening.
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