Stained teeth

What are stained teeth?

Stained teeth, also known as tooth discolouration, is when a tooth has lost its natural colour. This can be internal or external to the surface of the tooth, or both. It is somewhat normal for teeth to stain over the duration of a lifetime; however, some habits, food and drinks can also cause stains to appear on the teeth.

What causes teeth to stain?

There are many factors that can contribute to tooth staining, here are some of the following causes:
  • Drinks that can stain – Tea, coffee, cocoa cola, and red wine.
  • Eating foods like tomato-based foods, curry, soy sauce and beetroot.
  • Smoking and vaping.
  • Dark dentin beneath the enamel.
  • Blood vessels and nerves within the pulp are damaged, often due to trauma.
  • Enamel thinning exposes the colour of the dentin below the surface.
  • Ageing.
  • Genetics.
  • Exposure to certain antibiotics when young.
  • Excessive fluoride exposure when young.
  • Deficiencies in the mineralisation of teeth, such as molar incisor hypomineralisation.

What prevents teeth from staining?

Often tooth staining can be prevented, we recommend using the following guidance for success in preventing discolouration:
  • Avoid food and drinks that cause the enamel of the teeth to stain.
  • If you are eating and drinking the same foods that are a cause of staining, we suggest limiting the intake of that food or drink.
  • Avoid smoking and vaping.
  • Brushing the teeth after eating a meal.

How to treat teeth from staining?

Treating the teeth from staining is possible through a few methods, however these are variable to the cause of the staining. External staining, caused by food and drink for example, can often be removed by the hygienist. If the staining is internal, then you will need to visit your dentist to identify the cause. Fillings may require replacement, or the tooth may require root canal treatment if the nerve inside the tooth is damaged. Your dentist may also suggest whitening, or other treatments to mask the discolouration, such as composite bonding or veneers.

How to spot teeth from staining/symptoms?

Tooth stains will typically appear as a darker colour than the tooth's natural colour. This may be on the surface of the enamel or beneath it in the dentin or pulp. The stain may be brown, yellow, black or blue.

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