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Gentle Dental of Westland
825 S Wayne Road, Westland, MI 48186

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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration

Does it seem like you do everything possible to have whiter teeth, but it doesn’t work? If you’re reluctant to smile because you have stained or discolored teeth, then there are alternatives that may solve your dilemma.

Is There a Specific Cause of Stained Teeth?

There are many causes of stained or discolored teeth. Some of them are preventable. Others are beyond your control. Factors involved in stained or discolored teeth include the aging process, both prescription and over-the-counter medications, genetics, damage to a permanent tooth, and your lifestyle and personal habits. Inadequate oral care or hygiene can also contribute to darkened teeth, so if you need dental work, don’t delay in making an appointment.

Do My Dietary Habits Cause My Discolored Teeth?

Many people may not realize that their diet can affect their tooth color. In addition to the colorings in foods and beverages, high sugar or acid contents can dramatically impact your tooth color. Foods such as the following can darken or stain your teeth:

  • Dark-colored beverages: The food coloring, the acids, and the sugar content of colas can severely impact your teeth. Beverages such as coffee, tea, and red wine may lack some of the sugar content but are high in tannin and acids that can wreak havoc on your white tooth enamel.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbohydrates are some of the tastiest foods on the planet, they can destroy your teeth and your waistline. They’re full of hidden sugars that can erode your white tooth enamel and cause discolored, dingy teeth.
  • Sugary beverages: Fruit drinks and juices, energy drinks, sodas, and sports drinks are high in acids and sugars that erode your tooth enamel.
  • Sweet snacks: Both gum and candy are full of sugars and acids that can destroy your white tooth enamel.

If you eat or drink any of the above, then be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly afterward. Rinse with plain water or an antibacterial mouthwash to minimize the damage.

Can Some Foods Reverse Tooth Discoloration?

Just as some foods can destroy your tooth enamel and your bright white smile, other foods and beverages can help you maintain your bright white smile, such as:

  • Water: One of the best substances you can consume, plain water is also one of the least exciting. However, your body is more than 60 percent water, so drinking plain water helps maintain hydration and good oral health. It flushes out residual acids and bacteria in your mouth as well as any food particles that remain after eating.
  • Mineral water: Available in plain or sparkling varieties, mineral water, consumed in moderation, can help keep your mouth free of food particles, acids, and sugars that destroy your white enamel. Be sure to use the plain variety, however, without flavorings or sweeteners.
  • Rinse your mouth with plain water afterward to remove any residual carbonation.
  • Sugar-free beverages: If plain water simply does not go down your throat, then sugar-free beverages can provide some of the benefits. Be sure to rinse with plain water after consuming them because some sugar-free beverages can contain acids and traced amounts of sugars.
  • Flax seeds and fish: Both fish and flax seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Be sure to balance the omega-3 fatty acids with the appropriate amount of omega-6 fatty acids in order to receive the maximum benefit.
  • Dairy products: Although many people shun dairy in favor of other substances, dairy milk and cheese are excellent sources of calcium and protein, both of which strengthen and restore your teeth.
  • Cocoa: Although not typically considered a health food, cocoa is an anti-inflammatory that can help prevent tooth decay and the erosion of your white enamel. This applies to dark chocolate, however, not milk chocolate, white chocolate, or Hershey’s syrup. Be sure to rinse with plain water afterward.

Does Smoking Always Discolor Teeth?

Dentists agree that smoking discolors the white tooth enamel. Although there are methods for smokers to have whiter teeth, they won’t be as white as those of non-smokers. There will always be some degree of discoloration.

Do All Forms of Tobacco Cause Tooth Discoloration?

No matter the type of tobacco you use, it will discolor your teeth. Tobacco is dark brown when it’s dried and your tooth enamel is porous, so there’s no avoiding having stained and discolored teeth when you smoke. Tobacco is also one of the leading causes of periodontal disease, which can ultimately make you lose all your teeth.

Can I Get Whiter Teeth Without Quitting Smoking?

If you choose to ignore all the harmful side effects of tobacco and opt to smoke, there are ways of whitening your teeth somewhat, such as the following:

  • Use a tooth-whitening toothpaste.
  • Always brush your teeth after you smoke.
  • Brush and floss at least twice each day, especially just before you retire for the night, and use an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Get professional dental cleanings at least twice yearly.
  • Get needed dental treatment promptly.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes crunchy vegetables.

Although your teeth may never be as white as those of a non-smoker, you can improve your discolored teeth and be proud to smile once again.

Are There Ways to Prevent Tooth Discoloration?

The best way for a smoker to prevent tooth discoloration is to quit smoking. However, there are many other options to obtain a whiter smile, including:

  • Use a whitening toothpaste regularly.
  • Use an at-home, tooth-whitening kit. Be aware, though, that if you have dental work such as crowns or fillings, they may not whiten to the same shade as your natural teeth.
  • Get a professional whitening treatment at your dentist’s office. A professional whitening treatment is faster and more effective than the over-the-counter kits, and you’ll receive more consistent results. Some dentists offer at-home kits that use the same products they use in their offices.
  • Ask your dentist about crowns or veneers or other methods of covering up stains and discoloration.

Is Tooth Discoloration Reversible or Is It Permanent?

Depending on the degree of discoloration and the cause of it, you may be able to reverse some of your tooth discoloration. However, you’ll probably need to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle habits for your tooth-whitening efforts to become permanent.

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Gentle Dental of Westland

825 S Wayne Road, Westland, MI 48186

(734) 329-5284