Tooth Discoloration/Stain: Causes, Treatments

Tooth discoloration is a condition that is used to explain the changes in the color of the teeth. This can be as a result of stains from our food and drinks, medication use, tobacco and oral hygiene. Teeth discoloration may happen below the enamel of the teeth or right on top the teeth’s surface. In some persons, it can be seen in both places.

Types of Tooth Discoloration (Stains)

Extrinsic Teeth Stains: It’s on the surface of the tooth typically caused by tobacco use, regularly drinking coffee/tea, wine/cola drinks responds well to regular dental cleaning and brushing the teeth with whitening toothpaste.

Tooth discoloration

Intrinsic Teeth Stains: This is the type of discoloration or staining that happens below the surface of the teeth. This type of tooth discoloration can be seen in those who make use of excessive fluoride or in those stains that are due to drug use. It is commonly seen mostly at childhood. Intrinsic Teeth stains may be treated using bleaching techniques, making use of professionals or chemical teeth-whitening products at-home. Examples of these products include: OralB or Crest Whitestrips.

Tooth discoloration

Age-Related Teeth Stains: This type of tooth discoloration combine the results of both intrinsic teeth stains and extrinsic tooth discoloration because the core tissue of your teeth, the dentin, naturally yellows over time, teeth discolor with age. These extrinsic causes like beverages, some foods and tobacco combined with that of the intrinsic causes of discoloration will lead to the development of tooth discoloration with age.

Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Teeth stains have many causes. A number of food and drinks can lead to the development of tooth discoloration in certain persons. Some factors that can lead to tooth discoloration. Some factors are preventable, whereas, the others can not be modified. Knowledge of these factors can help in identifying the cause of the discoloration and also help in preventing further discoloration of the teeth: These factors are as follows:

Food & Drink: Coffee, tea, dark sodas, red wine, and even a few fruits and vegetables are proven causes of discolored teeth.
Tobacco: Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco can contribute to discolored teeth.
Oral Care: Poor dental hygiene, examples: inadequate brushing/flossing.

Trauma or Disease: Any trauma, illness, or disease that affects enamel development in children, either in the womb or while teeth are developing (under the age of 8) can cause discolored teeth.

Chemotherapy, radiation, as well as a number of other diseases and medical treatments can also cause tooth stain.
Medical Treatments: Sometimes medical treatments can contribute to teeth stain, and several classes of medications including drugs for high blood pressure, drugs for cancer treatment known as chemotherapy, antipsychotic and some antihistamines can also lead to the development of teeth stains.

See also: Dental Caries (Tooth Decay): Causes, Treatment

What to do If you have tooth Discoloration?

You should see a dentist. Treatment of Tooth Discoloration depends on the cause of the discoloration, from simple brushing, to scaling and polishing, to whitening sessions, to more evasive procedures like crowns and veneers.

Your doctor would enlighten you on the best available option for you after seeing you.

Prevention of Tooth Discoloration

Prevention is the best option and it starts with mother and child not taking anything for granted,

  • by seeing a doctor before you take any drug, and also if a child is sick because some stains are from drugs and sickness,
  • also brushing twice daily especially last thing before you sleep,
  • reducing the amount of tobacco intake,
  • frequent mouth-rinse and
  • visiting your dentist every six months for a check up.

I hope i have been able to enlighten you on this condition?

Feel free to ask any questions below if there are any areas that you do not understand.


  • Dr Oyegbile Oluwaseun Chukwuwinke

    Dr. Oyegbile Oluwaseun Chukwuwinke holds a BDS degree from the University of Lagos, UNILAG. Dr. Oyegbile aka Chike Seun is a dentist with five years of experience working to help bring dental care to as many homes as he can with home service dental care. Chike Seun loves counseling asides healthcare to achieve goals with the resources they have. Chike Seun is a powerful force in the workplace and uses his positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. In his free time, Chike Seun likes long distance driving, Anchoring events and meeting people." You can follow Dr. Oyegbile Oluwaseun Chukwuwinke on twitter on: @theoluwaseunre

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