5 Reasons Teeth Become Stained


Dental stains are caused by various factors, including foods, beverages, and tobacco use. In addition, certain medical conditions and medications may result in tooth strains. 

Dental stains can affect your overall appearance and make you look older than you are. However, there are steps you can take to improve the appearance of your smile. 

Here are some of the most common causes of dental staining.

Table of Contents

1. Tooth Brushing Habits

Brushing too hard or scrubbing too long can wear away the enamel says Cosmetic Dentist Paramus. It exposes dentin (the layer under enamel), which causes staining. Brushing with abrasive toothpaste can also cause enamel erosion and staining. The type of toothbrush you use matters too. If you use manual rather than electric brushes, ensure it’s soft enough. A soft brush is vital for sensitive gums and teeth. 

Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing your teeth is one of the most effective ways to remove stains. Brushing removes plaque, a sticky film that constantly forms on your teeth. 

If you don’t brush regularly, plaque can harden into tartar (also known as calculus). Tartar is porous and stains easily. Tartar is also difficult to remove with a toothbrush. So a dental professional should remove it using scalers or ultrasonic instruments.

2. Certain Medications

Certain medications contain ingredients that can cause tooth staining. Sometimes you don’t notice any stains right away. Staining is more likely to occur when taking medication for a while. 

For example, tetracycline antibiotics like doxycycline can cause permanent yellowing of the teeth. It can happen when consuming them for two months or more. Some birth control pills can also cause temporary yellowing. The estrogen in the pill can cause your teeth to change color. The good news is that oftentimes, the color change is only temporary. Many women notice that the staining goes away within months of stopping treatment.

If you plan to go on a new medication or are curious about the one you’re on, consult with your doctor. They can tell you whether they know of any dental side-effects. 

3. Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is the number one cause of staining. It’s important to know that stains don’t only happen to the teeth. Tobacco users can also expect to see discoloration in their skin and nails.

Tobacco use causes discoloration when nicotine combines with oxygen in the saliva to create a new compound called catecholamine. This compound penetrates the enamel and becomes trapped inside the tooth structure. Over time, this compound will break down into other compounds, such as melanin and lipofuscin, which are both responsible for tooth staining.

The good news is that this process can be reversed if you stop using tobacco products. However, whitening treatments may not restore your smile’s original appearance. If you’ve already been smoking for a long time and have stained teeth, it’s likely it will stay that way. 

There are ways to improve the color of your teeth, however. Teeth whitening and other treatments may help. So, consult your dentist to discover what can improve the appearance of your teeth. 

4. Drinking Coffee, Tea, or Red Wine and Consuming Dark-Colored Foods

Drinking dark-colored liquids such as coffee, tea, and red wine can stain your teeth. When these liquids sit on the surface of the teeth for long periods, they seep into the enamel and alter its color. The more often you drink these beverages, the more likely it will be that your teeth will become stained.

Foods such as black raspberries and blueberries contain pigments called anthocyanins. The berries stain your teeth if eaten in large quantities. Foods like beets and cranberries also contain pigments that may cause stains on your teeth. 

To prevent stains, consume dark-colored fruits and vegetables in moderation. They may cause slight discoloration to your smile but will not cause permanent staining.

5. Nighttime Anxiety

The body’s natural response to stress is to produce adrenaline, which can cause teeth to become sensitive and stained. This is especially true if you suffer from nighttime anxiety. Interestingly enough, adrenaline increases while you sleep. 

Poor sleep can lead to stress and anxiety, which can cause you to grind your teeth. This grinding can cause tooth enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity. JS Dental Lab offers solutions on how to prevent teeth grinding. 


When your teeth get damaged, it results in discoloration of the enamel surface due to contact with acidic foods and drinks during eating or drinking (for example, orange juice).

Teeth are porous and contain microscopic pits and fissures. When pigments from food, tobacco, or drinks are trapped in these tiny concaves, a layer of stain is likely to form.

Having stained teeth isn’t pleasant, but changing your habits can reduce or prevent future staining. Some treatments may help, such as getting your teeth whitened.


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