Stains on Teeth: Causes, Treatment and How to Prevent

teeth whitening

Stains on the teeth are a common occurrence in many kids and adolescents. But young people aren’t the only ones at risk of tooth discoloration. You can also find adults looking to get their teeth cleaned at the dentists. There is the saying that prevention is always better than cure, and when it comes to stains on the teeth, you surely want to try and prevent them. 

Most times, your dentist will advise you to make simple changes to your lifestyle for a better smile, such as regular mouth wash and choosing the right diet. But there is more to dental hygiene than eating and cleaning correctly. You need to understand that different factors lead to discoloration on the teeth. And you can read up about them below. 

Types of Tooth Stains 

Certain factors can lead to stains on the teeth, and they could either be external, internal, or conditional related. 

·         External or Extrinsic Discoloration 

This type is caused by external factors and usually bind to the surface of the teeth. They appear dark or brownish and can be removed with the use of cleaning agents. Common causes of external discoloration are food, beverages, and stains from cigarette (tobacco) smoking. 

·         Internal or Intrinsic Discoloration 

These stains are embedded inside the tooth, so you can bet they wouldn’t come off with cleaning agents. They appear greyish and can take a combination of treatment to remedy. Some of the causes of this type of discoloration are some types of medications, genetics, excessive use of fluoride, injury to the tooth, or gum or decay from an infection. 

·         Conditional Factors 

Certain conditions can cause the tooth to appear slightly different from the normal. It could be as a result of an ailment or old age. While Often people with jaundice often have slightly yellowish teeth or gum, it is common to experience this as you age due to wear and tear of the enamel.

How Common Are Tooth Stains? 

At one point in life, especially at the developmental stage up to adolescence, it is common to experience issues of tooth discoloration. Kids, for example, would need to develop permanent teeth and also a penchant for sweets things. So it may be safe to say that up to 99% of humans would have to contend with dental stains throughout their existence. You can find more here on dental hygiene for kids and how best to prevent discoloration. 

The smile is the greatest asset, so a lot of people take their dental hygiene seriously. And the routine includes the use of teeth whitening products to enhance the mouth and facial appearance, while also dealing with bad breath. 

But even with sticking to strict dental hygiene, it is also possible to suffer discoloration. So you must check for stains carefully by looking into the mirror every morning after you wash. But before we get into the prevention and treatment of stains on the teeth, let’s first examine the factors that cause it. 

 Causes of Tooth Discoloration 

smoking and teeth stains

Now you know that certain factors can lead to tooth discoloration such as extrinsic, intrinsic, and those caused by age or illness. The next step will detail all the major causes, so you know better how to prevent it. 

1.      Food 

Before the food gets into the stomach, it first passes through the mouth. So, in essence, your diet plays a significant role in your dental hygiene. Taking into account what constitutes your daily diet can help you solve brownish patches’ problems in your mouth. When it comes to the foods that can lead to dental stains, the list is endless. But the typical culprits are 

  • Junks such as chocolates, sweets, pasta, potatoes, and others with high grease and sugar. 
  • Certain fruits and vegetables are also known to be significant reasons for stains in the mouth. 

It may be challenging to avoid particular food even though they are high in starch, but it would be best to reduce them in your diet for a change. 

2.      Drinks 

Drinks also enter the stomach through the mouth, so they are a major cause of spots on the teeth. For people who drink too much coffee and sugary drinks, it is common to experience a change in the enamel’s appearance after a few months or years. You may also ask the question, does soda stain your teeth? The answer is yes, it does. Besides coffee and sugary beverages, other conventional fluids consumed regularly that can put you at risk include. 

  • Tea 
  • Wine 
  • Colas

3.      Tobacco 

Also on the list is tobacco, which is the main ingredient in cigarette smoke. For people who chew their tobacco, they would also experience changes in the color of their dentition. In most cases, the stains can go away after switching lifestyle habits. But it may be challenging to deal with stains from years of continuous tobacco use with seeking medical assistance. 

4.      Poor Dental Care 

You should also know that brushing and flossing regularly not only helps to freshen the mouth and breathe. It also does some serious cleaning, which helps to eliminate dirt from the mouth. Particles from the food and drinks we consume get left on the surface of the tooth, and forgetting to engage in the regular morning and night ritual of brushing the teeth can lead to spots on the mouth. 

5.      Drug Use 

Certain types of medications are also known to be a reason for dental stains. For kids, especially, the use of certain types of antibiotics can affect the dentition. Prolong use of certain types of antihypertensive and antipsychotic medication has been known to cause stains on the enamel. 

6.      Genetics 

There are also genetic conditions that can result in discolorations in the mouth. You should know that there is no universal color for all human dentition, so it is common to find variations. A condition known as dentinogenesis imperfecta is one that is commonly inherited by offspring from parents and is usually characterized by greenish plaques in the mouth. 

Other tooth conditions that can be passed through genes include the strength of enamel, how it responds to acid and pigments from food and drinks, and the amount of wear and tear it can withstand. You can check here for more about conditions that cause dental discoloration. 

7.      Disease Conditions 

Dental diseases could also cause problems with the dentition, which could result in color changes. The ones that affect the healthy development of the enamel are more likely to lead to tooth appearance issues. 

8.      Trauma 

Injury to the enamel during childhood can affect the healthy development of the dentition. Usually, an injury can cause bleeding in the mouth, which causes decreased blood flow to the nerves. With less oxygen and nutrient supply to the nerves around the enamel, the tooth suffers decay and could even break. 

What to Note About the Stains? 

teeth stains

If you notice a discoloration patch on your tooth after close observation, the first thing to do is observe the color. This tells a lot about the nature of the condition and possible cause. The common stains color on the tooth and the reasons are 

Brown Spots 

A brown discoloration on the enamel is usually the common type dentists encounter. There are many reasons why you can notice these types of stains, and they are 

  • High caffeine beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola. 
  • Tobacco (smoking or chewing)
  • Red wine 
  • Fruits such as berries and pomegranate 
  • Tooth decay problems 
  • Buildup of tartar 

Yellow Coloration 

These types usually are also caused by some of the other culprits responsible for brownish spots, but they are other factors that can as well be the reason and they include 

  • Poor dental hygiene 
  • High sugar diet 
  • Certain drugs 
  • Leaving the mouth dry for long 

Black Spots 

These types are a lot rare and usually as a result of 

  • Nutrient deficiency 
  • Silver sulfide compounds 
  • Severe dental cavities 
  • Liquid iron supplements (blood tonic)


It is also common to notice purple colors in the mouth as a result of excessive wine consumption. For those who eat regularly with red wine as part of their diet, it is normal for there to be light to dark purple stains around the gum and crown of the teeth. 


White spots are also common in the mouth when there is a cavity problem. The excessive use of fluoride can also lead to discoloration of the enamel, which first appears whitish in the early stage and turns darker if left unchecked. 

Treatment Options for Stains on the Teeth

teeth cleaning

There are various treatment options available to remove stains from the mouth. And the best type for you will depend mainly on the nature of the condition you are dealing with. You can start by checking with your dentist if you are unsure about what exactly could be the problem. There are preventive and treatment options that could both be combined when dealing with a severe case of discoloration. 

In-Office Procedures 

Your dentist can schedule you for cleaning sessions at the office. These procedures involve the use of high levels of hydrogen peroxide. The process is quick and usually lasts longer than other teeth whitening operations. You will have to spend more on this form of treatment as opposed to others. 

Home Treatments 

You can also find custom designs from a dentist that allows you to get a gel treatment at home. It works with a tray and cleansing fluid fixed on the teeth and allowed to stay for an hour or more. You will need to repeat this process over a period to be able to achieve your desired result. 

Cosmetic Procedures 

There are also new procedures available that involve the use of paints to add luster to the teeth. They work just like markers that you use to hide stains on the surface of the enamel. One other standard process is red light therapy, which involves using low-level infrared lights to wipe away dirt from surfaces. 

Over the Counter Dental Products 

You can also find the use of toothpaste to be useful in eliminating spots from the tooth and even with whitening. There are also strips that you can place over the mouth to deal with tough specks on the enamel and gum. 

Options to Avoid 

There is a lot of false information being peddled, especially when it comes to alternative dental care methods. You should know that it is crucial to consult your dentist when dealing with a dental problem. For alternative treatment to dental discoloration, you want to avoid the use of 

  • High citric fruits such as lemons and limes don’t do much with cleaning. Instead, they help erode the enamel quickly. 
  • Apple cider vinegar 
  • Activated charcoal 
  • Baking soda paste 
  • Essential oils and spices 

How to Prevent Stains on the Teeth? 

Remember the saying that prevention is better than cure. So the easiest way to avoid the stress of looking for a brownish or blackish enamel solution is to take your dental hygiene seriously. While medical or cosmetic options may provide lasting solutions, it is possible to avoid stains in the mouth entirely. The best ways to prevent dental problems are 

  • Brush the teeth, gum, and tongue for not less than two minutes in the morning and evenings/nights. 
  • Floss daily or at weekly intervals.
  • Drink less sugary drinks with a lot of starch and colorants.
  • Use the right toothpaste with whitening power.
  • Drink less coffee, tea, and beverages with a lot of caffeine. 
  • Consider quitting smoking.
  • Chew less tobacco and cola.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after drinking wine and juice. 
  • Use a straw when drinking thick, fruit, and vegetable smoothies that can leave behind residues in the mouth. 

You can find more suggestions on this website n how best to avoid tooth decay, discoloration, and how best to treat. 

When to See a Dentist 

For most people, the dentist is not the first point of call when they notice spots on the teeth. They usually shop for a few teeth whitening products with the hope of dealing with the situation. If you still see blemishes in your dentition after a strict dental routine, you want to check in with a dentist. 

Final Note 

Stains on the teeth are something you will have to contend with at a certain point in your life. The good part is that they can mostly be remedied by making lifestyle changes and adopting strict dental hygiene. 

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