Stained Teeth: How to Get Rid of Stains?


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Evidence Based - Facts Checked

This content is medically reviewed by Dr. Jasmeet Singh and written by Dr. Febin Mary George

Last Medical Review Date - 4th December 2020


Have you ever felt that your stained teeth are getting you down? The good news is that there are effective ways of getting rid of them.

While a white-and-bright smile is everyone’s dream, brown or yellow teeth can be a matter of deep embarrassment for most of us. Many factors, including our diet and oral hygiene levels, can play a decisive role in tooth discoloration.

Read further to know more about types of dental stains and understand why they occur and how can they be managed.


Different Types of Stained Teeth and Its Causes?

The stain on the teeth can be either of the following colors and can be present either superficially, deep inside the teeth or can be age related. 

Click on the image color to know more about it.

Superficial Stains

Superficial stains are the stains that are present on the external/superficial surface of the teeth. Following are the various types of stains that are present superficially:-

Yellow Color Stains

Food products or beverages like coffee or tea contain pigments called as chromogenic phenols that get incorporated on the tooth surfaces and lead to a yellow color stain on the teeth. The formation of plaque and tartar further adds on to the yellow color of the stain1M;, W. A. (2001, March). 'Tooth discolouration and staining: A review of the literature' Source.

Brown Color Stains

Regular use of mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine and toothpaste with ingredients like stannous fluorides can cause brown stains2R;, E. N. (2015). 'The staining effect of different mouthwashes containing nanoparticles on dental enamel' Source. Tobacco or red wine can also cause brown color stains on the surface of the teeth3Karadas, M., & Seven, N. (2014, April). 'The effect of different drinks on tooth color after home bleaching.' Source.

Black Color Stains

Black stains can occur as a side effect of prolonged consumption of iron medicines4Garcia Martin JM;Gonzalez Garcia M;Seoane Leston J;Llorente Pendas S;Diaz Martin JJ;Garcia-Pola MJ;. (2013) 'Prevalence of black stain and associated risk factors in preschool Spanish children.' Source


Deep Stains

Deep stains, as the name suggests, are internal in nature. This means that these stains are embedded deep within the layers of tooth structure.

White & Brown Color Stains

Children who had excessive fluoride consumption during childhood shall develop white spots or brown stains on the teeth5M;, W. A. (2001, March). 'W;, D. P. (2011). 'Chronic fluoride toxicity: Dental fluorosis' Source.

Dark Brown to Black Bands Color Spots

Children may have dark brown to black dental stains if their mother was put on tetracycline (an antibiotic) during pregnancy. These can be seen in the form of dark brown to black bands6J;, W. (1965). 'THE CLINICAL APPEARANCES OF TETRACYCLINE STAINING OF THE TEETH' Source.

Yellow-brown or Bluish Grey Color Spot

Yellow-brown or bluish-grey discoloration can be seen in those who suffer from congenital abnormalities like Dentinogenesis Imperfecta7MJ;, B. M. (2008). Hereditary dentine disorders: Dentinogenesis imperfecta and dentine dysplasia. Source.

Grey Color Spot

If you find only one or two teeth dark grey in color, you can suspect Pulp Necrosis (which means that the tooth is dead) however your dentist shall do an X-Ray to confirm it.8Moccelini BS;de Alencar NA;Bolan M;Magno MB;Maia LC;Cardoso M;. (2018). Pulp necrosis and crown discoloration: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Source..


Age-linked Stains

Yellow Stains

As we age, our outermost tooth layer, namely enamel, begins to wear off. This exposes the dentin layer that lies just beneath the enamel layer. As dentin is slightly yellowish in color, the teeth shall give a dull yellow appearance as age progresses9Haralur, S. B. (2015, August). 'Effect of Age on Tooth Shade, Skin Color and Skin-Tooth Color Interrelationship in Saudi Arabian Subpopulation.' Source.

Stained Teeth

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Can I Prevent Staining of Teeth?

Yes, dental staining (superficial stains in particular) can be prevented to a great extent by sticking to oral hygiene.

Just by following a few simple measures mentioned below, you can keep your teeth almost blemish-free:

Brushing of Teeth

Inadequate brushing of teeth is considered as one of the most common reasons for stained teeth. Hence, simple steps like brushing teeth twice a day can prevent the stain pigments from gluing permanently on the teeth.

It is recommended by dentists worldwide to spend a minimum of two minutes brushing for maximum oral health benefits10Creeth JE;Gallagher A;Sowinski J;Bowman J;Barrett K;Lowe S;Patel K;Bosma ML;. (2009). 'The effect of brushing time and dentifrice on dental plaque removal in vivo' Source.

Brush the inner surfaces (towards the tongue) of the teeth as diligently as the outer surfaces (towards the lips) as staining pigments can quickly deposit and enclose themselves firmly onto the unattended surfaces.

Flossing

Flossing takes care of those surfaces of teeth that stay untouched even after a thorough round of brushing.

Flossing of teeth once a day is highly recommended to prevent the food debris from accumulating and causing discoloration in between the teeth.

Keep a Check on the Consumption of Staining Foods/Beverages

- Avoid consumption of beverages like coffee or red wine. If holding off totally sounds daunting or highly unlikely, try minimizing the frequency of consumption.

- Use of a straw while having colored drinks is preferred over sipping from a glass as it minimizes the duration of contact with the teeth and hence help in avoiding stained teeth.

- Abstain from fizzy or carbonated drinks. The carbonic acid present in these drinks tends to weaken the enamel layer and wear it off, completely exposing the inner yellowish dentin layer.

- Quit the use of tobacco ( smoking or chewing )as it has harmful effects on one’s overall health and also oral health.


Wash It Off

- Another valuable tip is to brush your teeth after consuming colored beverages.

- A thorough rinse with plain water can also help when a toothbrush is not handy.

- This step ensures that the staining pigments are not given sufficient time to bind to the tooth surface and stain it.


I brush and floss regularly but still get stains on my teeth?

This can happen if the stains are deep rooted into the plaque layer. Moreover, intrinsic stains do not go away by brushing and flossing. Hence, it is recommended to consult your dentist to confirm the stains’ nature and discuss your suitable treatment options.


Can Stains Be removed from The Teeth?

Depending upon the nature of the stains, the dentists decide on the most suitable treatment procedure. The two most common treatment procedures performed by dental experts to get rid of stains are professional cleaning and bleaching of teeth. In some cases, dental veneers or crowns may also be used to camouflage the stained teeth.

1. Professional Cleaning/Ultrasonic Scaling

A majority of the superficial stains can be removed through professional dental cleaning. 

Wondering how?

Our mouth is in a continuous process of forming plaque (a soft and slimy layer formed by food debris and proteins present in the saliva). Brushing of teeth interrupts the process of plaque layer formation and helps in the removal of this plaque. However, if not done correctly, plaque can harden to form tartar, which cannot be removed with brushing. Tartar can easily pick stains and give the teeth an unaesthetic appearance.

With the help of ultrasonic scaling, these hard deposits, responsible for stains, can be removed. After the cleaning, the teeth surface may have tiny particles of tartar left on the tooth surface. These are polished away with the help of a polishing paste to produce a smooth and glossy surface.

Is it for me?

- Suppose you feel the presence of plaque and tartar in your teeth along with bad breath or possible gum infection or bleeding. In that case, you should consider getting a professional/ultrasonic dental cleaning from a dentist. 

- Dentists worldwide recommend that one should undergo professional dental cleaning at least once in six months.

- If you have not undergone professional dental cleaning even once, you should book an appointment with your dentist at the earliest.

2. Teeth Whitening/Bleaching of Teeth

Bleaching of teeth or teeth whitening is a method to make the teeth lighter by a few shades11Carey, C. M. (2014, June). 'Tooth whitening: What we now know.' Source. It can be done by a dental professional or can be carried out at home through DIY teeth whitening kits. It is always recommended to opt for the in-office teeth whitening procedure as the entire process will be performed by an expert. It helps in fixing deep stains

What happens during the process of Teeth Whitening/Bleaching?

- The process starts by first cleaning of the teeth. Clean teeth are essential for effective and uniform teeth whitening.

- Thereafter a tray is used to hold the whitening/bleaching material. After loading it with the whitening agent, it is placed inside the mouth and pressed against the teeth. After that, a special light is used for the activation of the whitening gel.

The active ingredient in the bleaching agent (held in the tray) is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which undergoes a chemical reaction on activation and releases oxygen molecules. These oxygen molecules digest the stain and produce the bleached effect on teeth and hence making it possible to get rid of stains on the teeth.

One of the most common side effect of teeth whitening/bleaching is dental hypersensitivity which may linger on for a week and then subside on its own12L;, A. J. (2009). 'Dentine hypersensitivity in dental bleaching: Case report.' Source. If you are already suffering from dental hypersensitivity, you should discuss it with your dentist as attempting bleaching through DIY kits may aggravate the existing condition.


Is it for me?

- Teeth whitening/Bleaching can be the right solution for you to get rid of stained teeth, if your teeth’s dull yellow shade bothers you.

- At times, superficial stains like tobacco stains may penetrate the teeth’s deeper layers and may not go off entirely through professional scaling. Teeth whitening can be the best treatment solution in such cases too.


3. Dental Veneers or Dental Crowns

What are dental veneers and dental crowns?

  • Dental veneers are thin layers of tooth-colored material that is attached to the front surface of the teeth to mask the stains. These are used for esthetic enhancement.
  • Dental crowns, on the other hand, are used to cap the entire tooth. These not only helps in improving the appearance of the tooth (by masking the stained teeth) but also strengthen a weak tooth.

Is it for me?

Deep/Intrinsic stains caused due to medicines or congenital abnormalities are so deep that these cannot be removed with teeth whitening/bleaching. In such cases, it is recommended to go for dental veneers or dental crowns as these will help in covering the stained teeth and giving it an esthetic look. 

Depending upon the spread of the stain on your teeth, the dentist shall decide, whether to opt for a crown or a dental veneer. 


Interested in - Fixing Stained Teeth With Home Remedies?


Conclusion

Though stained teeth can be bothering, there are many successful ways of addressing them. Identifying the root cause of the dental stain is the most essential step in deciding the suitable treatment plan.

Stain Type

Stain Color

Reason for Stain

Clinical Treatment

Superficial Stain

Yellow

Plaque and Tartar

Professional Cleaning/Ultrasonic Scaling

Superficial Stain

Brown to dark brown

Tobacco or Red wine

Professional Cleaning/Ultrasonic Scaling

Superficial Stain

Black

Iron Medicines

Professional Cleaning/Ultrasonic Scaling

Superficial Stain

Brown

Chlorhexidine mouthwash Or Stannous fluoride toothpaste

Professional Cleaning/Ultrasonic Scaling

Deep Stain

White spots or brown spots

Fluorosis

- Bleaching  in                 mild cases

- Dental veneer                or dental crowns in      severe cases

Deep Stain

Dark brown to black bands

In child due to intake of Tetracycline during pregnancy by mother

Dental veneer or dental crowns 

Deep Stain

Yellowish brown or bluish grey

Dentinogenesis imperfecta

Dental veneer or dental crowns 

Deep Stain

Greyish

Pulp necrosis (non-vital tooth)

- Bleaching (within the tooth), may not be effective always

- Ideally Root Canal Treatment followed by placement of dental crown

Age-linked Stain

A yellowish or dull yellow hue

Wearing down of enamel

Bleaching

Lastly, there is no substitute for routine oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, and regular dental visits. After the treatment for stained teeth, it is important to follow oral hygiene strictly or else, stained teeth can reoccur. 

References

  1. 1
    M;, W. A. (2001, March).
    Tooth discolouration and staining: A review of the literature.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11325156/
  2. 2
    W;, D. P. (2011).
    Chronic fluoride toxicity: Dental fluorosis.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21701193/
  3. 3
    J;, W. (1965).
    THE CLINICAL APPEARANCES OF TETRACYCLINE STAINING OF THE TEETH.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14278786/
  4. 4
    MJ;, B. M. (2008).
    Hereditary dentine disorders: Dentinogenesis imperfecta and dentine dysplasia.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19021896/
  5. 5
    Creeth JE;Gallagher A;Sowinski J;Bowman J;Barrett K;Lowe S;Patel K;Bosma ML;. (2009).
    The effect of brushing time and dentifrice on dental plaque removal in vivo.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19723429/
  6. 6
    Carey, C. M. (2014, June).
    Tooth whitening: What we now know.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058574/
  7. 7
    L;, A. J. (2009).
    Dentine hypersensitivity in dental bleaching: Case report.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19369923/
  8. 8
    R;, E. N. (2015).
    The staining effect of different mouthwashes containing nanoparticles on dental enamel. Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26535089/
  9. 9
    Karadas, M., & Seven, N. (2014, April).
    The effect of different drinks on tooth color after home bleaching.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054058/
  10. 10
    Garcia Martin JM;Gonzalez Garcia M;Seoane Leston J;Llorente Pendas S;Diaz Martin JJ;Garcia-Pola MJ;. (2013).
    Prevalence of black stain and associated risk factors in preschool Spanish children.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23414217/
  11. 11
    Haralur, S. B. (2015, August).
    Effect of Age on Tooth Shade, Skin Color and Skin-Tooth Color Interrelationship in Saudi Arabian Subpopulation.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588786/
  12. 12
    Moccelini BS;de Alencar NA;Bolan M;Magno MB;Maia LC;Cardoso M;. (2018).
    Pulp necrosis and crown discoloration: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
    Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29896799/

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This content is only for educational purpose and should not be considered as a substitute for your Physician's/Doctor's clinical judgement

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