Dental stains can vary from a mild yellowing to dark brown lines or patches on teeth. Over time, stains may become permanent, particularly if a person has poor dental hygiene.
Dental stains can be caused by a number of different reasons, including genetics, aging, and even some medical conditions and medications. However, discoloration primarily occurs as a result of the food and beverages we consume and from nicotine use. The good news is, there are some simple steps we can take to help prevent our teeth from becoming stained and to remove them when stains do develop.
Food And Drink
Many foods and beverages contain chromogens, which can stain tooth enamel. Chromogens are substances that can easily convert into dye or pigment and lead to sometimes permanent staining on the teeth. Tannins, which are also found in many foods and drinks like fruit, wine, coffee, and tea, enhance the ability for chromogens to stick to tooth enamel. Foods and drinks containing artificial colors can also contribute to teeth staining. High staining foods and drinks to watch out for include:
- Coffee and tea, including green and fruit teas
- Soda and sports drinks
- Wine (both red and white)
- Fruit juices
- Fruits containing tannins, such as mangoes, bananas, avocados, pineapples, kiwis
- Berries, such as blackberries, cherries, pomegranate, and others with intense colors
- Soy sauce
- Tomato sauce
Nicotine and tobacco products contain particles that can stick to tiny pores within tooth enamel. The particles can build up with repeated use and increase the level of staining to teeth, which can make it harder to remove discoloration over time.
Tartar and Tooth Decay
Bacteria in the mouth, food particles, and saliva can mix together to form plaque. When residual plaque reacts with the minerals in your saliva, it can harden, mineralize, and turn into tartar – a more permanent coating. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, diabetes, hormonal changes, and certain medications can increase your risk of developing tartar.
Plaque and tartar can weaken tooth enamel and allow acid producing bacteria to attach to teeth and cause decay.
Preventing Dental Stains
The best and most effective way to prevent dental stains is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes:
- Brushing teeth for 2 minutes twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing teeth at least once per day
- Using a fluoride-based mouthwash daily (not recommended for children under 6)
- Regular visits with your dentist for dental exams and teeth cleanings
- Rinsing your mouth with water after eating or drinking high sugar or high staining foods
- Using a straw when drinking high staining/sugar beverages
Avoiding high staining, high sugar foods and drinks as well as stopping smoking or using nicotine or tobacco products can also be effective ways to reduce dental staining.
There are a number of different products and treatments available on the market to reduce or eliminate dental stains. You should always seek advice from your dentist before using over-the-counter anti-staining products or home remedies. Products can include whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes, whitening strips, and tray whitening systems.
Your dentist can also offer an in-office teeth whitening treatment, which can lighten your teeth up to eight shades whiter in just one visit. Benefits of a teeth whitening treatment include: fast and dramatic results, no messy trays to wear, and a quick treatment that can be carried out in your lunch hour.
Comprehensive Dentistry in Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota
If you are having trouble shifting unsightly dental stains, visit Hagerman Dental Care. We offer comprehensive, state-of-the-art preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry in one convenient location for all your family’s needs. Whether you need a dentist for routine cleanings, teeth whitening, or X-rays and fillings, you’ll receive the most thorough dental care possible.
If you would like to make an appointment or find out more about services we provide, call us today at (651) 646-2392. You can use our online form to request an appointment at your convenience.