Are tooth stains causing your smile discoloration?

lady with tooth stains in smile

If your teeth seem to lack that crisp, white color you wish you could show off, you may assume that your problems stem from stains. Coffee, tea, tobacco products, red wine, and many foods can certainly pose a problem if you are worried about discoloration. Poor oral care can also contribute to your troubles. With that said, your discoloration may have less to do with surface stains, and more to do with internal problems. Intrinsic discoloration can frustrate patients because professional whitening treatments can have limited results. Fortunately, your dentist can provide a different approach, so you can enjoy real cosmetic improvements. Porcelain veneers are often used to help with intrinsic discoloration. 

Tooth Stains

Do you wonder how teeth become stained even if you brush them twice a day? Foods and beverages stain our teeth. It doesn’t take long-term exposure either. Deep, more intensely colored foods stain our teeth the most, and some of those intensely colored foods are actually very healthy for us. Foods high in acidity, tannins, or chromogens are more likely to cause stains.

  • Acidity: Foods and beverages high in acidity can soften tooth enamel and cause enamel erosion. When the enamel begins to thin or erode, it is easier for chromogens to stick to teeth and cause staining.
  • Chromogens: Chromogens are intensely-pigmented molecules in foods and beverages that stick to tooth enamel and discolor teeth.
  • Tannins: Tannins are yellow to light brown compounds found in plants. They strongly react with proteins, including the proteins in your saliva and your teeth. They are also known to help chromogens stick to tooth enamel.
  • Oral Bacteria:  Although they don’t cause tooth stains themselves, certain, harmful, oral bacteria convert sugars and starches in your mouth into acid that wears away tooth enamel. The weakened enamel provides a more suitable surface for chromogens to attach to, increasing your risk of stained teeth.

Tooth Whitening

The active ingredient in tooth whitening treatments is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide which works by penetrating tooth enamel and creating a chemical reaction with the dentin of the tooth, brightening its appearance.  It also actively bleaches the organic tooth stains within the tooth. Some sensitivity following tooth whitening is natural but it should subside. Tooth whitening treatments are designed to remove stains on or near the surface of the teeth. If the stains or discoloration are deep into the dentin, tooth whitening treatments may not be effective. If this is the case there are other cosmetic options for brightening your smile including dental bonding, veneers, and dental crowns. In-office whitening treatments can be performed in about an hour. Take-home treatments can be done over a two week period. Your dentist can help you find a safe way to whiten your teeth.

Stain Causing Foods

Some of the most common tooth stain-causing foods and beverages include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Dark soft drinks like cola
  • Highly acidic sports drinks
  • Hard candy and gummy candy that contain food dyes.
  • Deep pigmented fruits such as pomegranates, blueberries, and blackberries

Avoiding tooth stains

Some ways to try to avoid tooth stains are to:

  • Keep your tooth enamel healthy by eating foods high in calcium and phosphate. These include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, and most meats, including chicken, beef, and turkey.
  • Use a straw when drinking intensely pigmented beverages such as cola’s and red wine.
  • Brush soon after eating or drinking deeper colored foods, but not if they were highly acidic. As stated earlier, acid can soften your enamel and brushing too soon afterward can cause damage by wearing it away.
  • Rinse vigorously with water–especially if the food or beverage was highly acidic–to neutralize acids and wash away left-over chromogens.
  • Chew sugarless gum.

After a tooth whitening treatment don’t forget to keep practicing proper oral hygiene. Brush twice a day for two minutes, floss daily, and visit your dentist twice yearly to keep your teeth healthy and attractive. If you have questions regarding bleaching treatments or more ways to avoid tooth stains, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest. He will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.

Finding The Right Approach To Improve Your Smile

Artistic smile design focuses on finding the right way to make real changes to a person’s smile. When it comes to discoloration, identifying the cause of the matter is important to finding the best solution. Your dental professionals will examine all whitening solutions including offering one of the many whitening systems. In addition, your hygienist will check for tooth decay and remove plaque that collects and attracts stains from the food and drinks that you consume. A review of brushing and flossing is also a good idea. You might add whitening toothpaste to the other whitening products that you use.

If your discoloration results after the erosion of layers of your enamel, due to an injury, or as a result of taking certain medications, whitening agents can provide a less than ideal correction. Your best treatment option may be using porcelain veneers, or a dental bonding treatment, can be more effective at covering these issues.

When Discoloration Is Caused By Tooth Stains

Intrinsic discoloration can affect a person’s appearance, but many patients who want a whiter smile are looking for an effective means of addressing teeth stains. A professional whitening procedure can remove stains that you are unlikely to treat through store bought whitening agents. Many people who were interested in a better smile have seen remarkable improvements thanks to bleaching treatment.

We can help you deal with discoloration from tooth stains

A discolored smile can be embarrassing, and make you self-conscious about the way you look. You can make terrific improvements to your smile by undergoing cosmetic dental care. Our practice is ready to help patients struggling with esthetic concerns – if you want to learn more, let us know! In addition to helping Lake Forest residents, we also proudly serve residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities in the Chicago Metro area. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at 847-234-0517.