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Did you know that one out of two people in the U.S. don’t like to show their teeth when they smile? For about 57% of the country, the reason for everyone’s dental-related discomfort is discolored teeth. 

There are different types of teeth stains that you may be suffering from, depending on your situation. Check out this guide to learn what they are and how to fix your problem. 

What Causes Teeth Stains? 

So, first things first. What causes teeth stains in the first place? The answer is in what you eat.

Certain foods and beverages stain teeth worse than others. Tobacco use is also a problem, along with poor dental hygiene, aging, genetics, and illnesses. 

Poor Dental Hygiene

Having a proper dental hygiene schedule is crucial for keeping stains away. You must brush at least twice a day and don’t forget about flossing. If you neglect to clean your teeth, the bacteria from food will be allowed to stick around. 

If you pair poor dental hygiene with any of the other risk factors we’re about to talk about, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. 

Foods and Beverages 

Most Americans can’t go without their morning cup of coffee. In fact, over 75% of people say that they’re grumpy when they try to do so. 

The problem is that coffee is one of the worst culprits for stained teeth. It’s almost as guilty as red wine, tea, soda, and dark-colored juices. 


Tobacco users experience a wide range of tooth-related issues. Not only do cigarettes cause discolored teeth, but they can also lead to gum disease. Why does this happen? 

It’s a simple chemical reaction. When nicotine hits the air, it turns yellow and alters the shade of your teeth as it does. From there, nicotine mixes with the tar in the cigarette to make the problem worse. 

When you first start smoking, you’ll notice your teeth progressively become more yellow. Over time, this color will change to a deep brown shade. If you don’t quit, the chemicals in the tar can actually turn your teeth black. 


As you age, your tooth enamel wears down. As it does, the layer sitting underneath it will begin to show through. 

This layer is known as the dentin. Since it’s yellow in color, it can make your teeth appear to be stained.


If you have an eating disorder, calcium deficiency, a metabolic disease, or liver disease, there’s a chance that the color of your teeth has been altered. Certain medications can pose a problem with staining as well. 

Those who take antidepressants, blood pressure medications, antipsychotics, and some antibiotics may develop yellowed teeth. Treatments that expose the patient to small amounts of radiation can also stain their pearly whites.


Your genetics have a role to play in your risk for teeth staining. You see, your family history can determine the thickness of your enamel. The thinner your enamel, the more the dentin will shine through. 

Types of Teeth Stains

Now that you know what causes teeth stains, let’s delve into the different types. They are extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related stains. 


Extrinsic stains are ones that form on the surface of your teeth. They’re caused by the build-up of plaque that forms when you don’t brush and floss. 

The good news is that these stains can be reversed with a trip to the dental office and a new oral hygiene routine. Switch to a teeth-whitening toothpaste and make an appointment for a thorough cleaning to remove the plaque and improve the appearance of your smile. 


Intrinsic stains form under the surface of the tooth. They form when stains make their way through the enamel to settle within. These stains are often associated with heavy fluoride use, medications, and tooth-related trauma.

Removing these stains can be tricky, but not impossible. Professional laser treatment or bleaching should do the trick. If your case is especially severe, you may have to talk to your dentist about getting dental veneers.


Age-related staining is almost always a mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic staining. The yellow dentin sitting under your tooth enamel will show through as you get older. When you combine that with the surface-level stains that you’ve gathered, discoloration is natural.

In certain situations, professional teeth whitening treatments will reduce the appearance of age-related staining. However, in most cases, dental veneers and crowns are the better option. 

How to Prevent Dental Discoloration? 

There are ways to prevent dental discoloration before it happens. It starts with having a good oral hygiene routine, but it doesn’t stop here. Try out some of these tactics! 

Drink Through a Straw

It may sound wacky, but investing in straws could keep teeth stains away. When you sip coffee, wine, and juices through a straw, the liquid will make minimum contact with your pearly whites. 

In most instances, the beverage will slip past your teeth and go straight down your throat. 

Use Mouthwash

In this article, we’ve talked in length about the importance of brushing and flossing. Cleaning your teeth twice a day will reduce plaque build-up and prevent discoloration. 

You should also add a good mouthwash into your routine. Swishing with mouthwash will get rid of any plaque and bacteria that you couldn’t quite reach with your toothbrush. It will also leave your breath smelling nice and fresh. 

Invest in Teeth Whitening products 

If you’re worried about discoloration, add teeth-whitening products to your shopping cart. A simple whitening toothpaste will work to prevent deterioration and brighten your smile. 

There are also teeth whitening kits you can buy to turn back the clock on mild stains that have already formed. 

Say Hello to Pearly Whites 

One of the main reasons why people don’t smile in pictures is tooth discoloration. It’s a problem that occurs naturally as you age. Tobacco use and the foods you eat also have a huge impact on your teeth. 

There are many types of teeth stains, and we can help you tackle them all. At Lockhart Dental, we pride ourselves on providing a pain-free experience for all our patients. Contact us to make an appointment today!