Stains on Teeth

Getting rid of yellow, stained teeth can help you look better, more attractive, and healthier.

The fact is that our teeth aren’t supposed to be white. Well, let me rephrase that: Teeth aren’t supposed to be the color white you see so often in celebrity magazines. Most of our teeth have a natural appearance that is in the white family, sure, but definitely more mocha than latte. Creamy ivory, maybe? That doesn’t mean they are stained. It doesn’t mean that they are unhealthy.

Getting rid of stains on teeth is more of a cosmetic priority than a dental health one.  Unless the enamel is being affected (and it might be), non-whiteness is not a sign of unhealthy teeth—just dirty or stained teeth. But there are things you can do to get rid of and prevent stains on your teeth, so you might as well give it a try. Nothing wrong with a clean, healthy mouth, right? Especially when kissing that special person.

Best Products for Whitening Teeth at Home

Just about every toothpaste available these days has some sort of whitening properties built into it—peroxide, baking soda, etc. They all advertise that they are the proven solution that helps you get rid of stains on teeth. Regular use of these kinds of toothpastes can help prevent stains on teeth from becoming a problem.

There are more potent “home bleaching” products available as well. They come in paste, gel, and strip form. They can be dangerous if not used as directed or too often — these are your teeth we are talking about, after all. Always keep the teeth you’ve got healthy!

Teeth Whitening

Quit smoking, as it stains your teeth.

So many problems can be solved by quitting smoking, and yellow teeth are on that list. Not smoking is perhaps that best way to remove stains from teeth.

Tobacco smoke contains a dark resin that is referred to as tar. That tar can build up on your teeth over time. If you need another reason to quit to add to your list, there it is. You can put “stains teeth” right next to “shortens my life,” “causes cancer and heart disease,” “kills children,” and “really stinks.” I know from personal experience that kicking the tobacco habit is extremely difficult. I smoked cigarettes for 15 years (and non-filtered ones at that). I’ve been “cig-free” for three years now. Do whatever it takes—medicine, gum, patches, or anything else until you find a way to be done with tobacco. That goes for you tobacco chewers and spitters as well!

Stop drinking coffee, tea, and soda too.

Is that unreasonable? Probably. I know I would have a tough time not drinking high-test coffee and diet cola on a daily basis. They both contain a coloring agent that can stain your teeth. Soda is also high in acid, which can eat away at your enamel and make them even more susceptible to staining. If your drink of choice is a sugary soda, you are bringing yet another problem to the party. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar, especially the ones hiding deep in the recesses and crevices of your teeth. When they eat that sugar they produce an acid that can eat away enamel and cause cavities. If you’re going to drink this sort of stuff, at the very least brush your teeth.

Keep red wine from staining teeth.

Red wine is great. It tastes good, has antioxidants, and can help you relax after a long and crazy day. A problem, though, is that red wine can really stain teeth. It is a perfect storm of tooth staining agents:  Red pigment, acid which etches the enamel, and tannins that help the red pigment bind to your teeth.  It is also like it is not even a fair fight.

The good news is that there are some things you can do to get rid of stained teeth caused by wine.

First, drink water as you are drinking wine. The occasional sip of water in between your sips of wine will help wash your teeth, removing the acids from them and giving your teeth a fighting chance against the next sip of wine.

Second, a sneak but effective trip is to brush your teeth before drinking wine.  Brushing will remove tartar from your teeth, and the tarter on your teeth plays a role in catching and holding the wine pigments, much like a rug might catch dirt as it is coming in through the door.  Just be sure to brush several minutes before drinking the wine, so that the toothpaste doesn’t affect the flavor of your $50 bottle of pinot!

Brush your teeth more often.

The American Dental Association recommends that you brush at least two times daily with a good quality toothpaste that contains fluoride. They also recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if it is worn or frayed. Brushing your teeth removes food particles after meals and neutralizes agents of tooth decay. It can help remove the colorings and dyes that, if left on your teeth, can cause the staining we are talking about. It also freshens breath, kills bacteria, and is an all-around good idea. You can teach your kids and tell your friends that brushing your teeth, when paired with other good dental hygiene practices (such as flossing), will give you a better life. Heck, you could go all out and get this kit of Smile Dent Pro dental tools sold on Amazon to help keep the ol’ teeth clean. And speaking of dental tools…

Have your dentist remove stains from teeth.

Those of you with a health insurance plan that includes dental checkups should be taking advantage of that opportunity. A dentist or dental assistant will check each tooth with specialized tools, scraping plaque and tartar buildups along the gum line. They will also poke around looking for cavities and soft spots. That part can be a bit uncomfortable, but it is important because catching a cavity early can mean the difference between a filling and a root canal. After scraping and prodding, they will usually polish your teeth with a slightly abrasive paste and finish it up with a fluoride gel treatment to strengthen the enamel. You can have your teeth cleaned whenever you want, however, tooth polishing should be limited to a few times a year.

Caps, crowns, and dental veneers cover up stained teeth.

For those of you who won’t be satisfied with just any old white, there are dental veneers. They don’t bother with trying to whiten your obviously substandard tooth enamel. This method involves applying a manufactured shell over your existing teeth. This shell is made from either dental porcelain or a hard plastic resin. It is whiter than Sarah Palin and won’t pick up stains. While I think the whole idea is silly for those of you with perfectly healthy, normal teeth, there are people who have very bad teeth and products like caps, crowns, and dental veneers could really help them. However, if you have the money and think it’s important, who am I to judge?

Best Ways to Get Rid of Stains on Teeth Naturally

Whiten teeth with food.

Crunchy raw fruits and veggies like celery, apples, jicama, and carrots help clean your teeth while you are chewing on them. They also stimulate your gums and are part of any good balanced diet. Other foods high in acid can technically help whiten your teeth, but they could also dissolve enamel or stain your teeth worse…creating an eventual problem that will require some replacements.

What is better than being able to get rid of the stains on your teeth by eating food!  Not much sacrifice involved.

Increase your calcium intake.

Our western diet is often high in fats and carbs but lacking in other important nutritional elements. Children and adults need these vitamins and nutrients to live long healthy lives with healthy strong teeth. Please, make sure you are getting enough calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, and phosphorous. To help with that, you can get
Nature’s Bounty supplements from Amazon. Check with your doctor first, obviously.

Homemade remedies to remove stains from teeth.

Beware of home remedies that involve using corrosive or oxidative household chemicals (like hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and salt) for anything other than its recommended use. In small amounts these things are fine, and are often found in toothpaste, but be careful or you won’t have any teeth left to stain.

As a general rule, stick to solutions that are backed by the American Dental Association.  They still give their seal of approval to products that pass muster.

Adult Flouride.

While this won’t help get your teeth whiter, Adult Flouride will prevent cavities from starting or becoming larger. It is applied at your dentist’s office, and while it does cost a little bit more (I pay about $35 for an application every 6 months), it is worth not having to drill to get rid of cavities.

Anatomy of a Tooth

Enamel: Think of the enamel as a hard outer shell. It is made up mostly of crystallized calcium phosphate and protein. It is strong, but can be brittle too. It can also become stained.

Dentin: If you look under the outer shell you would find the dentin. It too is made from minerals that are bound up in collagen. It’s yellow in color and softer than the enamel and can decay very easily if exposed.

Cementum: If we were to pull out a tooth and look at the bottom, we would see the cementum. It covers the roots of your teeth and helps bond the tooth in place.

Dental pulp: This is area of your tooth that is actually alive. There are nerves and a blood supply in the dental pulp. It creates more dentin and cementum and helps remineralize your tooth.

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About the Author

Sean Froyd

Sean Froyd