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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration

Dark and discolored teeth can adversely affect your self-confidence and your outlook on life. However, there are relatively simple ways to whiten and brighten your teeth and your view of life.

What Are the Causes of Stained Teeth?

Many things can cause stained teeth, but not all of them can be prevented. The aging process, trauma to one or more teeth, both prescription and over-the-counter medications, genetics, and lifestyle factors can all contribute to teeth that aren’t very white and may appear stained. Your lifestyle includes your diet as well as your smoking habits.

Is My Diet the Culprit?

Many foods and beverages can cause your teeth to darken or to develop stains. All of the following can adversely affect the whiteness of your teeth:

  • Dark-colored beverages such as coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-colored fruit juice.
  • Sugared beverages including fruit juices, colas, and sports drinks can erode your tooth enamel and cause your teeth to appear darker.
  • Carbohydrate-laden foods are easily converted to sugars that erode your tooth enamel and make your teeth appear darker.
  • Sweet foods and beverages including gum and candy are high in sugar, which attacks your tooth enamel and makes your teeth appear darker

Do Some Foods Prevent Tooth Discoloration?

Just as some foods encourage darker teeth, some foods can contribute to whiter teeth. If you’re trying to lighten the color of your tooth enamel through your diet, then consider focusing on the following while you’re concentrating on a well-balanced diet that’s nutritionally dense:

  • Water: Clear, unflavored, unsweetened water may be boring, but it’s the best defense against discolored teeth. It washes away the bacterial residue in your mouth that’s the result of eating or drinking anything. It also neutralizes acids that can erode your tooth enamel. When it’s unflavored and unsweetened – even with an artificial sweetener – it’s the most effective.
  • Dark chocolate: Although most people don’t consider chocolate to be good for their teeth, it is. That doesn’t mean milk chocolate, white chocolate, or chocolate syrup. The darker the chocolate, the better, because the flavanols in dark cocoa are excellent anti-inflammatories that also protect you from tooth decay and erosion of your tooth enamel. Be sure to rinse your mouth with water afterward, though, so that the dark chocolate doesn’t remain on your teeth and in your mouth.
  • Dairy products: The calcium and protein in dairy products, such as cheese and milk, help prevent your tooth enamel from eroding while they strengthen the teeth.
  • Flax seeds and fish: Flax seeds and fish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent anti-inflammatories. However, you need to balance your omega-3 intake with omega-6 oils since there’s a ratio that will work best in your body.
  • Sugar-free drinks: If plain water just doesn’t do it for you all the time, you can opt for sugar-free drinks. Sugar-free sweetened beverages are better than no liquid at all, but artificial sweeteners aren’t always the best for your physical health, so choose wisely.

Does Smoking Cause Tooth Discoloration?

No matter the other things you do, if you smoke, you’ll most likely have discolored teeth over time. The best way for smoking to stop discoloring your teeth is to quit smoking. However, not everyone is inclined to quit, so alternatives are the only option.

Do All Forms of Tobacco Discolor My Teeth?

Tobacco products stain your teeth. In fact, dentists state that tobacco is the leading cause of discolored teeth, so if you want whiter teeth, you have a choice to make. Smoking isn’t good for your overall health, and it’s not good for your dental health either. It causes periodontal disease, and it’s the leading cause of lung cancer. If all your friends and family smoke, it’s okay not to go along with them and stand up for what’s in your best interests.

What If I Want Whiter Teeth But Still Want to Smoke?

If you want to continue smoking but still have white teeth, then the following may help you reduce the stains and discoloration caused by your nicotine habit:

  • Brush your teeth after each time you smoke. Brushing will remove some of the stains from smoking.
  • Follow the American Dental Association guidelines for brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash at least twice daily. This will help prevent plaque buildup, as well as remove some of the stains and discoloration.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes crunchy vegetables such as celery and carrots, and dairy products that will help strengthen your tooth enamel.
  • Have a professional dental cleaning at least twice yearly.

What Tips Will Help Prevent Dental Discoloration?

Although many people readily accept stained and discolored teeth as a side effect of smoking, there are lifestyle steps you can take to lessen the appearance of stains, such as:

  • Use an over-the-counter whitening toothpaste, strips or mouthwash. It may lighten the color of your teeth over time, but it may also make them more sensitive.
  • Whitening treatments at home may be effective in removing some of the discoloration. However, if you have caps or bridges, they may not whiten to the same color as your natural teeth. At-home kits are generally less effective than those done in a dental office, and they take longer to complete.
  • Whitening treatments from a dentist can provide you with whiter, brighter teeth in less time than the at-home kits. Also, your dentist can ensure that you get evenly-whitened teeth, which may not happen with the at-home kits. Remember, though, that if you continue to smoke, the whitening effect will be temporary.

What Habits Will Prevent Tooth Discoloration?

To achieve and maintain whiter, brighter teeth, you need to be proactive. The following can stop problems before they escalate.

  • Be sure to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush and floss at least twice daily, especially just before bedtime. Use an antibacterial mouthwash every day in addition to any specific procedures that your dentist recommends.
  • Brush your teeth every time you eat, whether it’s a snack or a meal.
    Rinse your mouth with clear water after drinking a dark-colored beverage.
  • Be sure to get dental procedures as you need them. Delaying them will damage your enamel and cause your teeth to appear darker.
  • Get regular professional cleanings so that stains can be removed before they become permanent.

Don’t Hide Your Smile…

Don’t hide your smile due to stained and discolored teeth. Even if you don’t quit smoking, there are several options that will whiten and brighten your teeth, such as:

  • Professional whitening procedures in your dentist’s office, which will be the fastest and most effective.
  • Use over-the-counter whitening toothpaste.
  • Dental products such as crowns or veneers can cover stains that don’t respond to other methods.
  • Use an at-home whitening kit. Some dental offices provide at-home kits that are more effective than those from your local store.

Talk to your dentist about the best methods for whitening your smile and maintaining the whitest teeth possible.

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