Stained teeth: what are the causes?

Stained teeth are a concern for health and aesthetics. Nobody likes to have visible stains on their teeth. Let’s see the most frequent causes responsible for stained teeth in order to avoid them.

Dentists study the appearance and morphology of stained teeth in order to trace the causes and find out how to treat and prevent them.

For the patient, stains on the teeth are also a cause for aesthetic concern. In fact, everyone wants a white smile.

Types of tooth stains

Stains on the teeth are classified into two types:

1. Extrinsic

They are located on the most superficial layers of the teeth. They are caused by a pigmented drink or food . They can be caused by wine, coffee or soy sauce.

Smokers also have extrinsic stains due to tobacco. On other occasions, however, they appear even though they have not been exposed to these factors and are attributed to aging and wear of the teeth.

2. Intrinsic

These stains are found on the deeper layers of the tooth. They can be due to trauma or a congenital defect.

Sometimes these defects are due to the mother taking a drug during pregnancy, such as tetracyclines. A particular condition is represented by fluorosis, due to an excessive consumption of fluoride.

Extrinsic stains can become intrinsic due to penetration. A stain on the enamel, which is the surface layer, can penetrate the inside of the tooth until it reaches the dentin.

Causes of stained teeth

Below we present the most frequent causes of stained teeth in the general population. Among these, we find:

  • Aging : over the years, the enamel becomes darker. In addition, there is also a typical wear and tear, which thins the glaze, revealing the inner layers that are of another color.
  • Nutrition : as anticipated, there are foods and drinks that can dye teeth. Coffee is one of the staining substances par excellence. Red wine, carrots, citrus fruits and vinegar are substances that erode the enamel and can stain the teeth.
  • Tobacco : Nicotine stains your teeth brown.
  • Natural color : Not all people have the same color teeth. From birth, there are differences in shade between one individual and another that can make the presence of stained teeth more evident.
  • Medicines : some medications discolor teeth, including diphenhydramine and chlorhexidine . Of course, this effect can occur if the medicines are taken for a long period of time. Other drugs work by interfering with the formation of teeth in childhood, including tetracyclines.
  • Fluorosis : When a person consumes more than the recommended amount of fluoride, it accumulates in the body, especially in the teeth. The presence of fluoride in the teeth causes the appearance of stains.
  • Trauma : Especially in children whose teeth are still developing, trauma can alter the growth process, forming a blemish.
  • Poor hygiene : Failure to brush your teeth or use incorrect technique can cause stained teeth.

Several factors can cause stains on the teeth. Some foods, medications, and trauma are the most common.

The colors of the stains on the teeth

The stains on the teeth have a different color depending on the cause that caused them to appear. This data is of help to the dentist who will formulate the diagnosis starting from a visual analysis.

White spots, for example, can point him towards a diagnosis of fluorosis. The same color are also the spots due to the accumulation of bacterial plaque , which becomes more evident when oral hygiene is neglected.

The brown color is generally due to the consumption of food or drink. Tobacco also causes a brownish color to appear on the teeth. In the presence of food remnants, the spots are yellow.

The yellow in the teeth, on the other hand, indicates the presence of bacterial plaque, which has formed due to microorganisms that have found a suitable environment to develop, thanks to the lack of hygiene.

Green spots are common at an early age. They are associated, like the yellow ones, with poor oral hygiene. The green pigment that forms these spots is called phenazine  and comes from particular fungi and bacteria.

Finally, black spots on the teeth are formed as a result of high iron consumption or due to the intake of medicines such as chlorhexidine. One of the symptoms of periodontitis is the appearance of black spots.

The coloring of the teeth is an important signal in the dental field, because it can guide the doctor in the formulation of certain diagnoses.

How can stained teeth be prevented?

You can take some general measures to prevent stains from appearing on your teeth. Among these we remember:

  • Improving oral hygiene : the correct use of the toothbrush and the habit of brushing the teeth often are the main tools to protect our teeth.
  • Dental visits : we must go to the dentist regularly so that he can examine the mouth and give us the appropriate recommendations.
  • Reduce the consumption of certain beverages : for example, coffee or fizzy drinks.
  • Stop smoking .

Have you noticed the appearance of stains on the teeth? In this case, we recommend that you undergo a dental examination to find out the cause .

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