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Why Are My Teeth Stained?

A bright white smile can help you stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression. This is why many people look for whitening treatments. When the holidays or an important event is on the horizon, you want to look your best. If you notice a change in the shade of your teeth, you may be curious as to why it is there and how to fix it. 

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Types of Stains

There are a variety of things that can change the color of your teeth. Additionally, there are two different types of stains. Your treatment options depend on the type of stains you have. 

Extrinsic (External)

The types of stains that we are most familiar with are extrinsic or external stains. These are stains that occur on the outside surface of your teeth due to elements like diet or lifestyle. Chemical whitening treatments can break down and lift many extrinsic stains. 


A good rule to keep in mind is that if it can stain your clothes, it is likely to stain your teeth. Therefore, many of the foods and drinks that you consume can leave surface stains on your teeth. 

For example, coffee is an incredibly popular drink. It is a great way to start your day, and many people drink it in the afternoon to help them get through the rest of their day. However, drinking coffee can stain your teeth over time. This is because coffee contains compounds known as tannins. This is what gives coffee its robust earthy flavor, but it also allows your teeth to become yellowed. In this same category, wine and tea can also stain your teeth. 

Even many food choices can stain your teeth. For example, foods that have a tomato base can leave behind surface stains. 

Lifestyle Factors

Certain behaviors or habits can stain your teeth as well. If you have poor oral hygiene, your teeth may turn yellow over time. This is because plaque buildup can change the color of your teeth, leaving stains. Additionally, having poor oral hygiene can cause tooth decay, destroying your enamel. In fact, sometimes, the beginning of a cavity can look white or black. 

Smoking is a habit that can cause staining to your teeth. Tobacco can turn your teeth yellow or brown. 

Intrinsic (Internal)

Another type of stain is an intrinsic or internal stain. This means that the stain occurs within your tooth. Unfortunately, this means that chemical whitening treatments are not likely to produce results. Therefore, you will probably need tooth bonding or dental veneers to whiten your teeth.

Certain medical treatments or medications can create stains in your teeth. For example, taking some kinds of antibiotics before the age of 12 can cause deformities and staining of the enamel. 

Dental trauma can cause staining deep within the tooth. This can be the result of bleeding or nerve death, creating a dark shade to the tooth. 

Unfortunately, genetics can play a part in the shade of your teeth as well.