Teeth Stains

Your morning cup of coffee (or two, or three…) may be hurting your smile.

Coffee and tea, in addition to wine, cola, certain foods, and habits like smoking, are among the primary contributors to teeth stains. When it comes to food and drink, it’s safe to assume that if it can stain your clothes, it can stain your teeth. Acidic foods also contribute to tooth discoloration by damaging the enamel and making it more likely to stain.

Both coffee and tea contain tannic acid, or tannin, a natural compound found in many plants which acts as a dye. Generally, the darker the beverage, the more tannins it contains, and the more it can stain your teeth over time. If you prefer a latte to an espresso, you’re in luck! Drinking coffee or tea with milk or cream reduces its ability to stain your teeth.

Factors like aging and genetics can also contribute to yellowing teeth. Our porous enamel thins with age, allowing the yellowish dentin below to show through. Additionally, the holes in our already-porous enamel get larger as we age, making older teeth more susceptible to staining.

Professional cleaning and whitening are the best way to remove stains on your teeth. If you are particularly susceptible to staining, you may want to consider maintenance cleanings in between your regularly scheduled ones. In-office whitening procedures are also available for stubborn stains that aren’t eliminated by regular cleaning.

There are many things you can do protect your pearly whites in between cleanings, however. Daily brushing and flossing are the first line of defense against stains. Brush thoroughly but gently morning and night, and you’re particularly worried about staining, you can also brush your teeth after your morning coffee or tea. Flossing is also important, because the plaque that builds up around the edges of your teeth attracts stains.

One of the easiest ways to prevent staining is to rinse your mouth with water after drinking. If you can, try to drink you coffee or tea quickly rather than sipping on it all day, to reduce its contact with your teeth. With cold beverages, a drinking straw will also help minimize contact.

Home whitening kits are usually effective on normal day-to-day staining, and are a good option for in between regular cleanings. However, whitening kits are only effective on natural teeth, so if you have a prominent piece of dental work in the front of the mouth, home whitening could cause visible contrast.

Whitening toothpastes are another good option for reducing the appearance of stains in between dental visits. If you have sensitive teeth, you may want to avoid whitening toothpastes and whitening kits, which can temporarily cause additional tooth sensitivity. Whether you simply want to brighten your smile, or have more demanding stains, Dr. Mullins and the team at My Family Dentistry can help. In addition to your regular cleanings, we offer deep bleaching for serious stains.

If you have any questions about your whitening options, just call us.

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