5 Things That Cause Stained or Colored Teeth, and How We Can Help

It’s been well-documented that smiling plays an important role in our development as human beings, our outward appearance, and even our culture as a whole. There’s a reason babies begin smiling at just five weeks and salespeople are taught to sell with a smile – smiling is a nonverbal form of connection. The very act can create deep personal bonds and instill a sense of trust.

So being insecure about your smile or the color of your teeth goes beyond an aesthetic concern. It can have serious effects on your relationships, your job, and even your health.

While in some cases discoloration is genetic, in most cases the cause is as simple as what we choose to eat or drink. Just like our skin, our teeth are porous and absorb the substances we expose them to. The good news is that most tooth stains or discoloration can easily be reversed with a trip to your family dentist.

Read on to learn about some of the most common causes of stained or colored teeth, and how you can fix the problem before it even starts.

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The Usual Suspects

Food and Drink

Coffee, tea, sodas (including seltzer or fizzy water), and red wine are all beverages which can cause obvious staining and enamel wear. Acidic foods (lemons, oranges, tomatoes) and dark berries like blueberries and blackberries have a similar effect and should be eaten in moderation.


There are actually two ingredients in tobacco that can cause your teeth to turn brown or yellow: nicotine and tar. Whether you smoke traditional forms of tobacco like cigarettes or cigars, choose to chew tobacco, or smoke e-cigarettes, you are at risk of stains. Fortunately, modern teeth whitening can do amazing things for even long-term tobacco users.

Tooth Trauma

Breaking or chipping a tooth will cause the internal structure of the tooth or nerves to be exposed, which will not only result in discoloration, but may be painful as well. If you do not have the broken tooth repaired as soon as possible, it could be susceptible to additional staining, from food, drink, or other means.


Tetracycline and doxycycline antibiotics are known to cause tooth discoloration, especially when given to children whose teeth are still developing (eight years of age and under).


As you grow older, the enamel on the outside of your teeth naturally wears away which causes the dentin to show, giving your teeth a yellow appearance. Luckily teeth whitening is a great option for older adults who are looking to improve their smiles.

Extrinsic versus Intrinsic Stains

Many of the stains listed above are extrinsic, or affecting the outside of the tooth also known as the enamel. Breaking or chipping a tooth would affect the internal structure of the tooth, or dentin.

There are different removal processes depending on the type of stain you have. For extrinsic stains, whitening toothpaste or bleaching are viable solutions that have long-lasting effects when paired with tooth-friendly changes to your eating and drink habits.

Intrinsic stains may not respond as well to whitening treatments and are best covered using resin bonding or veneers. Resin bonding is typically better used for small spot treatments and is not as permanent as having porcelain veneers placed on your teeth.

For long lasting results, skip the over-the-counter whiteners. Instead, see your family dentist to learn which teeth whitening products and dental hygiene program will work best on your stains.

Something to Smile about

You can prevent stains from occurring by staying away from particularly harmful foods and drinks.

In some cases, however, staining is inevitable or the damage has already be done. A visit to your family dentist will help you determine the best course of action for giving you the brighter, whiter smile you’ve always wanted.

For more information about teeth whitening options or to schedule an appointment with an experienced dental expert, be sure to contact us at Dr. Manuel Stefan Prosthodontist today.