What Are the Causes of Stained Teeth?

What Are the Causes of Stained Teeth?

Jul 10, 2023

A tooth stain is the discoloration of a tooth’s surface with stains that aren’t easily removed by regular brushing. Stained teeth usually appear yellow, brown, white, purple, or green. Your teeth may darken over time for various reasons; some can be modified (lifestyle habits), and some cannot be controlled, like accidents or age.

The good thing is that preventive dentistry procedures, in-office teeth whitening near you, or other cosmetic procedures like veneers can address most teeth stains.

New Tampa Smiles is a dental office in Tampa, Florida, offering whitening and various cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Below are the general and specific causes of different types of dental stains.

General Causes of Dental Stains

  • Tobacco use – Years of use of tobacco products, chewing and smoking, can lead to teeth stains due to the tar and smoke being deposited on the teeth’ surface when you smoke.
  • Foods/drinks – Staining foods, pigmented fruits, and dark-colored beverages like coffee and wine create conditions that facilitate staining.
  • Poor oral hygiene – Skipping routine brushing and flossing of teeth allows plaque formation on the teeth’ surface. Dental plaque accumulation causes stains which can be aggravated when the buildup progresses to form tartar.
  • Medications – Some drugs are known to cause teeth discoloration in children. Antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline disrupt normal enamel formation in kids below eight years.
  • Aging – As years pass by and you become older, the enamel, too, wears out, becoming thinner and exposing parts of the yellow tooth dentin.
  • Trauma – When younger children aged below eight years suffer trauma during contact sports, enamel formation can be disturbed, resulting in teeth easily getting stained.

Dental Stain Causes According to Color

  • Brown stains

Poor dental hygiene, tartar buildup, untreated dental decay, and lifestyle factors such as Smoking are the main causes of brown tooth stains. Fluorosis, a condition caused by excessive fluoride use, Smoking can also lead to teeth discoloration, resulting in a brownish tint.

  • Yellow stains

Lifestyle choices like using tobacco products (Smoking or chewing) and overindulging in a sugar-heavy dietary routine are the major causes of yellow stains. Other common factors which cause yellow staining on teeth include poor dental care practices, a chronically dry mouth, and beverages like tea and red wine.

  • White stains

White spots or stains on your teeth surface can be an early sign of dental decay or result from excessive fluoride use. Consult our dentist in Tampa, FL, if you notice white spots on your teeth surface.

  • Purple stains

Although purple stains are mostly influenced by what you drink and eat, they can sometimes be from a more serious underlying cause. Common causes of purple stains on teeth include internal bleeding due to trauma, frequent wine consumption, and habitual consummation of pigmented fruits like pomegranates and blueberries.

Types of Tooth Stains

Tooth discoloration can be intrinsic (on the tooth’s interior) or extrinsic (the outer surface), depending on the causative factors, including genetics, the environment, and daily habits. Here is a more detailed view of the types of teeth stains and their causes.

  • Intrinsic stains

Internal or intrinsic stains result from pigmented particles seeping beneath a tooth’s surface, and when allowed to accumulate, they lead to tooth discoloration. These stains are more common in kids and persons who use fluoride excessively. Other factors that may influence intrinsic discoloration include chemotherapy, trauma, developmental disorders, genetic conditions like amelogenesis imperfect, and some antibiotic medications like tetracycline.

  • Extrinsic stains

Extrinsic discoloration or external stains are caused by the buildup of tinted residues on the teeth surface originating from dark beverages and foods, as well as long-term tobacco use. These stains are usually influenced by the foods and drinks regularly consumed. Coffee, black tea, wines, sodas, blueberries, tomato sauce, and soy sauce are foodstuffs that can cause extrinsic staining. Environmental factors such as metals like copper or iron can also contribute to this type of stain.

  • Age-related discoloration

As people age, it is normal for their dentin (the core inner layer of a tooth) to become more exposed, making their teeth appear yellow. This happens because as you age, your dental enamel becomes thinner due to normal wear and tear, and this allows the dentin tissue to be exposed.