The teeth are central elements in any smile, and their whiteness plays a major role in this area for many of us. When teeth become stained or discolored, however, not only do they become less attractive, they also may be signaling some other problems that are taking place within the mouth, including those that may lead to actual dental issues.
At Bright Side Dental, we’re here to offer numerous teeth whitening services and other basic dental solutions in Bloomfield Hills and numerous other parts of Michigan. We’ve helped many clients deal with discoloration or staining in their teeth, both through specific teeth whitening solutions and through general expertise that helps avoid these risks. Why do discolored teeth come about, what sorts of foods will either worsen or improve this condition, and what are some other important factors to be aware of? Here’s a primer on preventing and/or treating discolored teeth.
Discolored Teeth Causes
Discolored teeth are somewhat common, unfortunately, but it’s important to realize that they do not have a singular cause. There are several factors that may lead to them, one of the most common of which is simple aging. With time, the enamel on teeth may wear down, and lead to darker dentin underneath the enamel becoming more visible.
However, there are also numerous other potential reasons for discolored teeth, including those that can take place among younger people. Injuries to teeth may cause discoloration in some cases, as might certain medications. Finally, food and drink consumption, plus other items you put in your mouth on a regular basis, often play a major role in creating – or fighting – discolored teeth.
Our next several sections will go over some important areas to be aware of for day-to-day prevention of tooth discoloration.
Harmful Foods and Beverages
Many of us are aware that eating the wrong foods can lead to cavities or tooth decay, but some don’t make the connection to food consumption and teeth discoloration. There are several food and beverage types that are known to increase the risk of discolored teeth, including:
- Sweet treats: Gum, candy and other sweet deserts are made out of huge quantities of sugar, which is known to eat away at tooth enamel and lead to darkening of the teeth.
- Sugary drinks: Down similar lines, drinks packed with sugar – such as sports drinks, sodas and fruit juices – are damaging to the teeth, both through this sugar and the various acids also included.
- Dark beverages: Other beverages like wine, tea and coffee are dark by nature, and will stain the teeth if they are consumed consistently. They also contain acids that eat away at enamel.
- Starchy foods: Finally, various high-starch foods like potatoes, white bread, rice, pasta and many cereals are harmful, also because they contain hidden sugars. Again, these sugars damage the tooth enamel.
Beneficial Foods and Beverages
On the flip side, there are actually several foods or beverages that play an important role in preventing stained or discolored teeth. Eating a balanced diet is more important here than you might think, including the following food and beverage groups:
- Water: Perhaps the single most important item here is water, which is obviously important for several areas of overall health. It also rinses various acids and sugars out of your mouth, plus food particles that might be sticking to the teeth or gums.
- Sugar-free drinks: Water is best, but if you need a little flavor, go with sugar-free drinks that will not eat away at your tooth enamel.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in foods like fish, flax seeds, nuts and many others, Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that are good for preventing gum disease, and also limiting tooth staining risks.
- Dairy: Dairy options like milk, cheese and others cause increased saliva production in the mouth, which stops acids from eating away at enamel. Dairy also contains calcium and protein that makes the teeth stronger.
- Cocoa: Cocoa reduces inflammation, like fatty acids, while also decreasing cavity and erosion risks.
Cigarettes and Teeth
One particular tooth staining risk that deserves its own section, sadly, is cigarettes and smoking. Those who smoke cigarettes regularly for any significant period of time will raise their risk of tooth discoloration exponentially. In addition, the level of discoloration is often particularly severe for those in this position.
The best method for avoiding this, and for improving your overall health in several ways, is to quit smoking. If you choose to continue, however, there are a couple things you can do to at least mitigate the impact of discoloration:
- Undergo professional cleanings and whitening sessions at least twice a year.
- Brush, floss and rinse daily with an antibacterial mouth rinse.
- Brush the teeth after meals, and as often as possible after smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet full of varying nutrients.
Day-to-Day Prevention Tips
For those who do not smoke, and in addition to simple eating habits, there are a few basic approaches you can take on a daily basis to avoid teeth discoloration:
- Brush, floss and rinse the mouth daily as your dentist instructs.
- Rinse with water whenever you have a dark-colored or sugary drink.
- Brush after eating.
- Treat dental problems immediately – do not delay.
- Take part in regular professional tooth cleaning.
In addition, those who are already suffering from discolored teeth have options to treat this condition. Teeth whitening solutions are incredibly robust today, allowing for a simple appointment with your dentist that will lead to whiter, beautiful teeth. Contact our offices today to learn about your options.
For more on teeth whitening, or for any of our family dentist services in Bloomfield Hills or other parts of Michigan, speak to the staff at Bright Side Dental today.