It goes without saying that our teeth are the first in line to meet whatever we put in our mouth (well, after our lips). Years of smoking, drinking tea or coffee, or just plain poor oral hygiene can lead to teeth stains. Here, we learn more about how we get tooth stains, and more importantly, how we can get rid of them.
Causes of Tooth Stains
There are two branches of tooth stains. They can be divided into intrinsic causes and extrinsic causes. Extrinsic stains are the stains that can be seen on the outside layer of the teeth, usually caused by layers of bacteria or fungus that grow on your teeth. Bad oral hygiene, habitual coffee drinking and other habits that cause stains on the outer layer of the teeth all cause extrinsic stains
Intrinsic stains are stains that seem to be growing within your teeth, or inside the tooth’s layers. These arise from systemic causes, among them antibiotics, old age, trauma inflicted directly on your teeth, too much fluoride, tooth decay and even tooth fillings.
Good Oral Hygiene
Teeth stains don’t happen overnight. They’re usually the result of years of exposing your teeth to different things that cause stains. The easiest solution would be to brush your teeth right after eating, or at least three times a day, for around ten minutes for each brushing. Regular flossing and using mouthwash all help make your mouth area not just cleaner, but stain-free. You should also visit your dentist for a regular checkup and cleaning once every six months.
Just a word of caution: While it may sound like a good idea to brush your teeth very hard, don’t! Brushing your teeth too hard may strip the enamel off your teeth and expose the darker dentin layer underneath. Keep your soft-bristle toothbrushes, and brush your teeth gently but thoroughly!
Drinking water right after you drink coffee, tea, soda or any flavored drink should also help prevent you from getting tooth stains. While ideally brushing your teeth should come right after you drink any of these, truthfully that’s not what most people would do. So what you should do is swirl some water inside your mouth for a minute after drinking coffee or any of the mentioned drinks, to prevent them from building up on your teeth and causing stains. Chewing sugarless gum is also said to have the same effect as water. Chew the gum right after drinking your coffee or tea.
Eat Crunchy Food
Crunchy food like apples, carrots, pears and celery (Tips on how to grow celery) break down into smaller pieces and rub against your teeth, which will then help dislodge tiny pieces of food left between your teeth that can cause cavities and stains. Another bonus? They’re healthy and good for you!
As an additional tip, eating less sticky food (the ones more prone to really sticking around) will also help you prevent getting stained teeth in the long run.
Tobacco, or smoking, is one of the leading causes the worst kind of extrinsic tooth stains. They cause dark brown or black stains, which are a result of coal tar combustion in the tobacco, and the penetration of tobacco juices and pigments into your teeth and gums. Anyone can point out a longtime smoker just by the discoloration of his or her gums and teeth. Think of it this way-getting rid of tooth stains are just one of the many good reasons why you should stop smoking for good. (Learn how to get rid of smoking)
Teeth Whitening Products
Teeth whitening products are often the surefire way and the quickest way to get rid of extrinsic tooth stains. While many toothpastes and other tooth products swear to their product to yield results, it’s often best to go to your dentist first and ask what would work best for you. Real teeth whitening products (and not just products with teeth whitening factors) usually require your teeth to soak in the teeth whitening product overnight or for a few hours. Teeth whitening products can also cause your teeth to become brittle, so if you’re planning to use those home teeth whitening kits, think very carefully. The same goes for teeth whitening strips and peroxide solutions.
One way to have a natural teeth whitening method without resorting to chemicals is by using baking soda. Baking soda won’t wear away your tooth’s enamel, making it safer to use. Before using toothpaste, dip your toothbrush into water and get a fresh box or can of baking soda. Dip the surface of the toothbrush into the baking soda, making sure that the whole surface is covered in the white powder. Then brush your teeth! It’s that easy. The smaller particles will gently rub away the stain-causing particles, and you can proceed to your normal brushing afterwards to help get rid of that salty taste.
Veneers, Crowns and Fillings
What are veneers? Think of them as the tooth version of false fingernails. A porcelain layer is overlaid on the surface of your teeth, making them attain a more even color.
Crowns perform what they sound like: When your tooth has disintegrated far beyond what a normal filling can do to help or prevent, a crown is installed or capped off on top of your tooth. This helps get rid of tooth stains that were caused by tooth decay and cavities.
Fillings are a method done when a small portion of your tooth (usually the surface) portion has just started to decay and is removed to prevent spreading to other parts of your tooth. The scraped portion is then replaced with a filling. Some fillings can actually cause tooth stains and must be replaced eventually.
Use a Straw
Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the most effective. Even if you may feel a little silly using them, using straws when drinking your coffee or tea is an effective way to prevent tooth stains. This is because using straws helps the liquid bypass your teeth and go straight down your throat. The less contact your colored drinks have with your teeth, the lesser problems you have with stains.
See Your Dentist
If you’ve tried all the recommended methods and none of them have worked so far, it’s time to check with your dentist. Tooth discoloration or tooth stains may just be a result of other causes, such as dead nerve roots in your teeth, medication and other underlying causes that won’t be solved by just brushing your teeth with baking soda. Remember, if your dentist can’t find a way to get rid of the tooth stain entirely, he or she have a myriad ways to make your teeth look even better!
When it comes to getting rid of tooth stains and keeping them stain-free, it all boils down to our daily habits and hygiene. Remember, prevention can be the best cure.
Want to learn more? Learn how to get rid of yellow teeth and how to care for your teeth.