Tooth discolouration is when the colour of your teeth changes, and will make your teeth look less white and bright. Teeth may darken, turn from white to different colours, or develop white or dark spots in places. Read on to find out more about tooth discolouration, how it is caused and how it can be prevented.
What Causes Tooth Discolouration?
There are 3 reasons in which tooth discolouration may be caused. For instance:
- Extrinsic: Caused by something that comes into contact with your teeth, such as drinks which stain.
- Intrinsic: Caused by something inside your teeth or body.
- Age-related: Discolouration occurs naturally later in life.
Tooth discolouration is common, and is often caused by personal habits, such as smoking or drinking coffee, or by not maintaining good oral hygiene. Below, we have compiled a short list of causes of tooth discolouration:
- Food & Drinks: Caused by coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, wines and certain fruits and vegetables which will stain your teeth.
- Tobacco: Smoking or chewing tobacco will inevitably stain teeth.
- Poor Dental Hygiene: Not brushing, flossing or rinsing enough to remove plaque and stain-producing substances will lead to discolouration.
- Diseases: Several diseases that affect enamel and dentin (the underlying material under the enamel) can lead to tooth discolouration, as well as treatments for certain conditions.
- Medications: The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolour teeth when given to children whose teeth are still developing. Mouth rinses & washes, antihistamines like Benadryl, antipsychotic drugs, and drugs for high blood pressure also cause teeth discolouration.
- Dental Materials: Some of the materials used by dentists such as amalgam restorations, especially silver sulphide-containing materials, can create a grey-black colour to teeth.
- Ageing: The outer layers of the enamel on your teeth wears away, revealing the natural colour of dentin, which usually looks discoloured.
- Genetics: Some people have naturally brighter enamel than others.
- Environment: Excessive exposure of fluoride to your teeth either from environmental sources (fluoride in water) or from excessive use can cause teeth discolouration.
- Trauma: For example, damage from a fall can disturb enamel formation in young children whose teeth are still developing. Trauma can also cause discolouration in adult teeth.
- Bad Diet: Sauces, sugary foods, dark curries and black coffee are big culprits that tend to stain the teeth if used excessively and regularly, since they contain chemicals known as tannins – famous for their blemishing properties. The staining residue tends to stick on the tooth surface, tarnishing the enamel.
Tooth Discolouration Causes Based on the Colour of Your Teeth
The colour of your teeth changes could very well help point out the cause of discolouration. Find below several colours your teeth may be, and what this may indicate:
- Yellow: As you age, the white enamel surface on your teeth wears away, making the yellow core more visible.
- Brown: Tobacco, dark-staining beverages and poor oral hygiene leads to tooth decay and may cause teeth to turn brown.
- White: As young teeth develop, too much fluoride can cause white spots. This is called fluorosis, and it happens when teeth come into contact with too much fluoride from drinking water or excess use of fluoride rinses or toothpastes
- Black: Tooth decay or tooth pulp necrosis may turn your teeth greyish or black. Exposure to minerals like iron, manganese or silver from any supplements may create a black line on your teeth
- Purple: Red wine can stain the enamel of your teeth due to the high pigment colour of the beverage.
How to Get Rid of Stained Teeth
Whether you are looking to prevent stained teeth or wish to get rid of any discolouration, luckily there are remedies and treatments available. Tooth discolouration can often lead to people lacking confidence, yet there are ways you can get smiling more confidently again by following some simple steps.
- Brushing Your Teeth: It’s especially important that you brush after consuming foods and drinks that can lead to yellow teeth. However, brushing immediately after consuming acidic foods and drinks can make the acids brush away more enamel and lead to erosion. Brushing with a whitening toothpaste has also been scientifically shown to whiten your smile.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can be used in very small amounts to whiten your teeth. However, it has the potential to cause damage to the hardness and surface structure of teeth. So, it’s best to use it with caution, and only use it for short amounts of time. More human studies are needed to expand upon these findings.
- Eating Fruits and Vegetables with a Higher Water Content: It’s been alleged that eating raw fruits and vegetables with a high water content can help to keep your teeth healthy. The water content is thought to cleanse your teeth and gums of the plaque and bacteria that lead to yellow teeth. Although there isn’t enough scientific evidence that supports this, there’s no doubt a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for your dental and overall health.
Alternatively, if these methods or natural remedies do not work or you would prefer a more instant result, you can opt for teeth whitening procedures at dentists. While these treatments are costly over-time, they can help get more permanent results as long as you continue to avoid any previous habits which lead to your teeth staining.
Ultimately, the best way to maintain whiter teeth is to prevent stains before they occur. Practising good oral hygiene is also key as well as regular dental check-ups. However, always be cautious when seeking whitening methods not done by professionals, as this can damage your enamel or gums and lead to tooth sensitivity and cavities.