How Teeth Become Stained

Not many people are lucky enough to have perfectly white teeth, and even those who take good care of them will still have some issues with discolouration or staining at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that the enamel on our teeth becomes more porous as the years pass, and eventually the shade will start to darken; this is not something that regular brushing and flossing can help. Of course, you should keep up a decent oral hygiene routine regardless, and don’t blame yourself if you teeth start to look discoloured as you get older, it’s not something you can avoid. Enlighten teeth whitening is a great way to get that polished, bright smile back, and you can educate yourself by learning about where stains come from in the first place – to try and stop the problem from reappearing.

What causes dental stains?

There are basically two places where dental stains can come from; the inside and the outside. Our teeth are at the mercy of whatever we put in our mouths on a daily basis, and the stains that develop as a result of eating too much curry or drinking too much cola are called extrinsic stains. The dark molecules in these products are too strong for the porous enamel to repel, and they eventually become a permanent mark on the hard outer shell. Other bad lifestyle choices, such as smoking or drinking a lot of red wine will also have some effect on the colour of the teeth, leaving them looking discoloured and unpleasant.

Stains that develop from inside our bodies are called intrinsic stains; they are related to the overall health of the body, rather than what kind of food and drink is ingested. Some illnesses and specific medications can change the way the body replenishes the minerals in the teeth, altering their appearance. Genetics can also be blamed for some part of this problem; if your parents or grandparents have dark enamel, it’s likely that they will have passed it on to you.

Luckily, with enlighten whitening treatments it doesn’t matter where the discolouration comes from, the bleaching solution deals with all stains in the same way, regardless of their origin, and success rates are quite high for such a simple procedure. If you are having problems with either intrinsic or extrinsic stains, book an appointment with the Pearl Dental Clinic, and get rid of unsightly discolouration in under an hour.

What kinds of factors cause staining?

Food and drink – This is top of the list for most patients, as a lot of people probably don’t realise the damage they are doing by eating or drinking something that has a very dark colour. Even if you maintain a decent cleaning regime, with continued exposure to dark colorants, the enamel will develop a different shade and start to appear discoloured. Avoid the usual suspects in large quantities; coffee, cola, curry, and red wine.

Health issues – Stains that are the result of medical problems are developed intrinsically; the nerve signals are disrupted or sent incorrectly throughout the nervous system, which stops the central pulp from properly replenishing the minerals needed to keep the teeth looking healthy. This is not necessarily dangerous for the function of the teeth, but they will take on a different shade, the most common ones being brown, grey, yellow, orange, and even purple. If you are suffering from some health issues, this is probably another side-effect that you could do without, but enlighten whitening can help you too – just make sure you speak to your GP about the treatment before booking it, they may recommend you wait until you are in a better condition.

Aging – As mentioned briefly above, the process of aging changes the way our teeth function, they can’t repel stains as well as they could in youth – and, of course, a life time of bad habits won’t help either. This type of discolouration could be mistaken for intrinsic, but it is actually extrinsic in that the stains are still caused by outside elements, it’s just the aged enamel that can’t fight them off any longer.

Smoking – There’s virtually nothing good about smoking whatsoever, and it can also be added to the list for ruining teeth; the chemicals in the smoke prevent the oxygen from reaching the gums – putting you at risk from gum disease, and the nicotine stains the enamel a nasty yellow colour – in the same way it does the fingers and nails. The easiest way to avoid these negative effects is to throw away the cigarettes, but don’t turn to other products like chewing tobacco, this is even worse for your teeth and it will leave them brown and discoloured, as well as very unhealthy.

Restorative techniques – Sometimes dental restorations can cause problems at the same time as solving them; fillings can often lead to dark stains in the affected areas. The black spots around the edges of some amalgam materials can often be mistaken for decay, but they don’t actually represent any real health problem, they are just quite unpleasant to look at. Teeth whitening can get rid of this discolouration, but ultimately the filling will have to be replaced or the problem will probably occur again. Most dentists will remove the amalgam metal and fill the cavity with composite bonding material, which has a more natural appearance.

Strong mouthwash – It’s a good idea to use a mild mouthwash as part of your daily cleaning routine anyway, but be careful not to use a product that could affect the natural whiteness of your teeth. Mouthwash is supposed to keep your teeth looking white and healthy; however, some products contain alcohol or strong antiseptic ingredients, which are not good for the porous enamel. Unless you have been advised to do so by your dentist, you shouldn’t use antiseptic mouthwash, chose a mild variety, with little or no alcohol content. Although mouthwash is great for cleaning hard-to-reach areas and getting rid of harmful bacteria, you need to use the right product in appropriate quantities, otherwise you might see some negative effects.

How to find us?


5 Vale Parade, Kingston Vale

Kingston Hill, London SW15 3PS


Pearl Dental Clinic

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