Teeth Staining: Causes and Prevention
We all want white teeth, and nowadays, there are plenty of methods to help get you that bright smile, from toothpaste to home whitening treatments to professional treatments at your dentist office. But how can you avoid these treatments and help prevent stains in the first place? Read on for some tips for keeping your smile bright.
Food and Drink
The majority of stains come from your food and drink. Wine, tea, coffee, and cola drinks are the top culprits and, in general, food and drinks with darker or more intense colors have a higher propensity for staining teeth. Smoking and chewing tobacco also not only tints or stains your teeth, it can damage them and the health of your gums as well. Additionally, acidic foods and drinks can soften teeth and make them more susceptible to absorbing stains.
While most stains are caused by what you eat and drink, and are only on the surface and therefore cosmetic in nature, some stains are intrinsic, coming from discoloration from within the tooth. Staining of the inner layers of the tooth (beneath the enamel) can be due to a variety of reasons, such as extreme exposure to fluoride during early childhood or the use of tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy. Tetracycline antibiotic use in children can also result in the appearance of intrinsic stains. The treatment of intrinsic stains can be a more difficult process and should be discussed with your dentist.
How to Prevent Stains
Using a straw can help prevent teeth staining as it keeps beverages with staining potential from coming into too much contact with your teeth. Swallowing quickly can also reduce the amount of contact and staining on your teeth. The most effective way to prevent staining is frequently brushing, though this is not always possible. A good alternative is to swish your mouth with water after eating or drinking to help remove staining materials from your mouth until you are next able to brush.
While there are many methods for tooth whitening available, as previously mentioned, it’s recommended that you speak with your dentist before using one. Generally speaking, a professional tooth whitening treatment at your dentist’s office is usually the healthiest and most effective method, but your dentist can help you find one that best fits your needs.