What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

Posted: June 14, 2016   Article

woman with an appleBakersfield, CA – As you age, you might notice that your smile becomes less bright than it used to be. Foods and drinks we consume can lead to discoloration over time, but in addition to that, the enamel that covers our teeth naturally thins as we age. This allows our dentin to show through, and the dentin naturally yellows over time.

Stains on the enamel can range from white streaks, to a yellow tint, to brown spots. It can be caused not just by the foods and drinks we consume and the natural aging process, but by injury to a tooth, certain kinds of antibiotics, too much exposure to fluoride during childhood, and smoking.

“One of the most common concerns we hear from patients is that they don’t think their smile is white enough,” says Dr. Thomas Frank, a Bakersfield cosmetic dentist. “Regular professional cleanings may be able to remove some superficial stains, for more serious stains, we can use professional whitening agents or even veneers to brighten up the smile.”

You can help ward off stains by avoiding foods and drinks that can lead to discoloration, and by ensuring you brush, floss or WaterPik after every meal.

So what are the top foods and drinks to stay away from in order to avoid tooth discoloration?


  1. Citrus and highly acidic foods
    Citrus fruits and tomatoes are high in acid content, which can lead to the erosion of the enamel that protects your teeth. This can lead to your dentin being exposed, and dentin naturally has a yellow hue to it.
  2. Coffee
    Coffee contains tannins that can lead to staining and discoloration. It also has a high acid level, which alters the pH levels in your mouth. If you follow a cup of coffee with other acidic foods, your teeth can become damaged even more quickly. If you love your cup of morning joe, drink it with a to-go lid, which will minimize the acid damage.
  3. Sweets
    Sugars attach themselves to our teeth, creating a delicious meal for the bacteria that naturally lives in our mouths. The bacteria will feed on the sugar, releasing acid as it does so. This acid can cause discoloration and tooth decay.
  4. Soda and other carbonated beverages
    Soda is loaded with sugar, which can feed the bacteria that live in our mouths. But, carbonated beverages are also highly acidic, which can be damaging to your smile. So that means even sugar-free sodas can lead to discoloration and tooth decay.
  5. Berries
    Blueberries, blackberries and pomegranates are full of anti-oxidants, but they also can stain your teeth. Think about it this way – if a food creates a stain that is difficult to remove from your clothing, think about what that same food does to your teeth when you eat it.
  6. Wine
    Wine can actually lead to turning teeth a grayish color, and this is often more difficult to remove than yellow-colored stains. It was once thought that only red wine led to staining, but recent research shows that even white wine can darken your teeth. One study even suggests that white wine leads to darker staining that red. That’s because it has a higher acid content, so while it doesn’t actually stain the teeth itself, its acid levels damage the teeth, making them more susceptible to stains from other things.

But the good news is, if your smile isn’t as bright as you’d like, there are excellent options for whitening it.

“If you don’t like the color of your teeth, there are tooth restorations that will give you a bright, white smile again,” says Dr. Thomas. “Teeth whitening is safe, effective, and can dramatically improve your smile. We offer one hour LaserSmile and take-home systems that can make you happy to show off your pearly whites again.”

Porcelain veneers are also a great way to improve the look of your smile. A very thin porcelain shell is placed over your existing tooth, hiding the discoloration and showing the world a bright, white grin.

If you are unhappy with the color of your teeth, Dr. Frank can help. Call today for a consultation and be on the way to a beautiful smile makeover in no time.

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