Dental Guides

Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Most people find a bright, white smile to be attractive, perhaps because yellowing and discoloration are common signs of aging and even tooth decay. At the biological level, we’re interested in finding potential mating partners that are young, strong, and healthy. So it’s only natural that we are attracted to the qualities that white teeth denote. And luckily, there are many options for polishing up your chompers when they start to look a little dingy. But before you get busy with bleaching trays or laser tooth whitening, you might want to take the time to address the issues that have caused your teeth to become discolored in the first place. After all, whitening may not be the answer, and if bad habits are to blame, an unwillingness to address them could lead to further staining or discoloration, meaning you’re virtually throwing your money away on treatments. Here are just a few causes of tooth discoloration that may have you wanting to scrub your smile clean.

One of the most common causes of tooth discoloration is consumption. The food you eat, the beverages you drink, and any kind of tobacco use could all have a negative impact on the color of your teeth. It turns out that certain items are inherently pigmented and therefor capable of penetrating your tooth enamel in order to cause deep-seated staining. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are a major culprit, as are coffee, tea, and red wine (basically, all of your vices). So if you’re not keen to give these items up, chances are that whitening will only be a temporary solution.

Of course, there are also several foods and drinks on the market these days that contain a variety of food dyes. So unless you’re willing to steer clear of soda and a variety of processed foods, you may still have a problem. Just as a counterpoint, though, certain foods will also help to protect your teeth. Cheese, for example, helps to strengthen teeth thanks to calcium and pH adjustment that cuts acids in the mouth. And water helps to rinse away food particles and bacteria that lead to staining and tooth decay.

But consumables aren’t the only possible cause for staining. Medications are another major factor, and as many people now know, the acne medication/antibiotic tetracycline often has the side effect of causing terrible tooth discoloration that is almost impossible to remove through whitening. Genetics can also play a role, as can certain illnesses (extreme fever, jaundice, and so on) occurring at a young age when teeth are still forming. In these cases, whitening may not be a viable solution. However, veneers have proven effective at hiding these types of issues and they are a very nearly permanent solution to otherwise untreatable tooth discoloration.

Finally, you should not discount the role of oral hygiene when it comes to the color of your teeth. As any dentist will tell you, attending to your dental health is of the utmost importance if you want to flaunt a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come. If you start out with a white smile, brushing, rinsing, and flossing regularly can go a long way towards preserving it, especially if you avoid other factors that could lead to stains and discoloration. And it couldn’t hurt to use toothpaste with whitening properties or acceptable levels of fluoride to get that extra sparkle.

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