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How to Prevent Teeth Staining

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    Everybody cherishes that pearly white smile, but nowadays there are some barriers to it. A number of factors play a role in teeth discolouration. Many beverages, like red wine, coffee, tea and acidic juices can cause teeth to develop stains. The same can be said about pigmented foods that leave a mark on the enamel of your teeth. Some medications and the natural ageing process also impact tooth discolouration.

    The good news amidst all this is there are ways to prevent tooth discolouration. You can easily remove stains that come from foods or drinks, and even some of the tougher ones that penetrate the enamel with the right in-office whitening treatment by your dentist. In the following guide, you will find out more about the type of stains that make your teeth less white and what steps you can take to prevent that.

    What type of stains can discolour your teeth?

    man with very yellow teeth at the dentist

    Dentists identify three groups of stains on tooth enamel.

    • Extrinsic stains - this type of tooth discolouration occurs on the outside part of the tooth. When the enamel layer is exposed to beverages and foods, it can turn yellow or brown. Some lifestyle choices also cause these stains, such as smoking and chewing tobacco. Poor dental hygiene, i.e. not brushing and flossing teeth can be a major culprit too.
    • Intrinsic stains - these occur when the dentin, i.e. the inside of the tooth turns brown or yellow. Medications are a likely cause for this, as is internal injury or trauma of the tooth. Tooth decay or excessive use of toothpaste and whitening agents with too much fluoride are also known reasons for intrinsic stains. Because this is a type of discolouration ingrained within the structure of the teeth, it can be more difficult to remove and requires some assistance from a dental professional.
    • Age-related teeth staining - extrinsic and intrinsic causes both play a role here. With age, the dentin underneath the enamel tends to become yellow. And because the enamel tends to become thinner, causing food and drinks can lead to more stains on your teeth.

    How to prevent coffee stains on teeth?

    young woman stirring a cup of coffee

    Coffee is, without a doubt, coffee is a favourite drink to many individuals, who cannot imagine starting the day without a cup. However, it can also stain the tooth surface and alter the colour of your teeth from pearly white to more yellow. White teeth may not stay white for long after drinking coffee. There are a few strategies that can keep your teeth presentable, even if you are an avid coffee drinker.

    • Use a straw - the goal of a straw is to minimise the contact of staining beverages with your teeth. Drinking coffee through a straw
    • A little cream may not be a bad idea - researchers have found that a little milk has a neutralising effect on the compounds affecting the tooth enamel.
    • Brush/rinse after drinking - another one of the popular tips to prevent stains after drinking coffee is to brush your teeth soon afterwards, or at least rinse thoroughly.
    • Use whitening products - if the previous methods do not work, you can always rely on some over-the-counter whitening products to turn your teeth white again. Whether that be whitening trays or whitening gel, you can choose from a variety of products to whiten your teeth at home or with the aid of your dentist.
    • Don't forget about quality oral hygiene - even though there are ways to minimise stains caused by coffee, as well as other foods and beverages, you should prioritise good oral hygiene. When you brush your teeth frequently with or without a whitening toothpaste, you will reduce the amount of plaque there and prevent future staining.

    How to prevent tea stains on teeth?

    young woman in singapore drinking tea in her home

    A lot of teas contain tannin, which can stain your teeth more than coffee. The deeper the colour of the tea you are drinking, the more it can stain teeth. In order to keep your smile white after drinking tea, try out the following tips:

    • Rinse with water/mouthwash after drinking tea - dark-coloured liquid may get stuck and your teeth may darken. That is why rinsing with water or mouthwash can help remove leftover liquid stuck between the teeth.
    • Reduce tea intake - if you notice your teeth lose their whiteness after you consume beverages such as coffee and tea, then the simplest thing to do is to reduce or avoid coffee or tea.
    • Switch the type of tea - black tea is a major culprit for causing your teeth to look stained. Switching to green, peppermint or white tea can reduce the white spots on your teeth and reduce discolouration.
    • Brushing and flossing are a must - you may not be able to prevent discolouration, but at the very least you can keep the outer layer of enamel clean by brushing and flossing regularly. Flossing and brushing your teeth at least twice a day will allow staining to go away. It is also helpful to do it immediately after drinking tea.
    • Use a straw - a straw can help prevent the liquid from coming into contact with your teeth.
    • Consider some teeth whitening treatment options - you can always make an appointment with your dentist to get your teeth bleached or treated for stains. You can also rely on some over-the-counter products, such as whitening toothpaste or home whitening strips/kits to make your teeth look pristine and white again. There are also LED and Laser bleaching treatments available.

    How to prevent food stains on teeth?

    Food, even more so than drinks, can cause stains on the surface of your teeth. Foods like curry, pasta sauce, berries and balsamic vinegar can turn teeth dark. Here are a few useful strategies to prevent food stains and white spots on teeth:

    • Eat more green vegetables - eating a salad or some dark green vegetables before another staining food provides a layer of protection for your teeth. Eating lettuce along with some of the stain-inducing foods can have a mild abrasive effect, much like using baking soda as part of a DIY method to whiten teeth.
    • Cheese helps - hard cheese eaten after an offering of food can neutralise some of the acids that cause food stains and even help strengthen your teeth.
    • Drink some water - when you are done with your food, you can drink some water or milk to remove the parts of the food before they set in. You can also rinse your mouth within 30 minutes of eating food to clear some of the stains and not let them set in.
    • Brush and floss your teeth - proper tooth brushing and flossing is a great way to reduce stains caused by foods. Brushing teeth soon after eating may not always be convenient, but it is sure to remove food particles before they have had the chance to cause any stains. 

    In conclusion, tooth discolouration can be caused by a variety of factors including certain beverages, pigmented foods, medications, and the natural ageing process. There are three types of tooth stains, extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related stains.

    To prevent stains caused by coffee and tea, it is recommended to use a straw, add a little cream, brush or rinse your teeth afterwards, use whitening products, and maintain good oral hygiene. A professional in-office whitening treatment by a dentist can also remove tough stains that penetrate the enamel. Overall, it is important to take preventative measures to maintain a pearly white smile.

    You can read more about how to maintain the results from whitening your teeth.

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