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Health > Dental Health > Tooth discolaration

Tooth Discoloration

There are several reasons why teeth may darken, including:


Coffee, tea, colas, wines, and certain fruits and vegetables (for example, apples and potatoes) can stain your teeth.

Tobacco use.

Smoking or chewing tobacco can stain teeth.

Poor dental hygiene.

Inadequate brushing and flossing to remove plaque and stain-producing substances like coffee and tobacco can cause tooth discoloration.


Several diseases that affect enamel (the hard surface of the teeth) and dentin (the underlying material under enamel) can lead to tooth discoloration. In addition, treatments for certain conditions can also affect tooth color. For example, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can cause teeth discoloration. In addition, certain infections in pregnant mothers can cause tooth discoloration in the infant by affecting enamel development.


The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor teeth when given to children whose teeth are still developing (before the age of 8). Mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain teeth. Antihistamines (like Benadryl), antipsychotic drugs, and antihypertensive medications also cause teeth discoloration.

Dental materials.

Some of the materials used in dentistry, such as amalgam restorations, especially silver sulfide-containing materials, can cast a gray-black color to teeth.

Advancing age.

As you age, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away revealing the natural yellow color of dentin. Genetics. Some people have naturally brighter or thicker enamel than others.


Excessive fluoride either from environmental sources (naturally high fluoride levels in water) or from excessive use (fluoride applications, rinses, toothpaste, and fluoride supplements taken by mouth) can cause teeth discoloration.


For example, damage from a fall can disturb enamel formation in young children whose teeth are still developing. Trauma can also cause discoloration to adult teeth.

How to Prevent Teeth Discoloration?

By making a few simple lifestyle changes, you may be able to prevent teeth discoloration. For example, if you are a coffee drinker and/or smoker, consider cutting back or quitting all together. Also, improve your dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly and getting your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist every 6 months.

If your teeth appear to be an abnormal color without ready explanation and, if other symptoms are also present, make an appointment to see your dentist.

Home Remedies for Teeth Whitening

There are a variety of home remedies suggested by people to whiten your teeth, and with varying degrees of success.

Most of these home remedies for teeth whitening can help in the short term, using ingredients you have at home, such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. If you are careful, these can help you to keep your teeth looking whiter.

Many teeth whitening processes involve rubbing your teeth with abrasive materials, but you want to avoid rubbing them too much, because if you rub off the top layer of your teeth, the tooth enamel, your dentine layer will be exposed.

This is harmful to your teeth as well as making your teeth look greyish. Use caution and a soft bristle brush with home-made teeth whitening attempts.

Here are a few home remedies for teeth whitening you could try (not all at once!):

1. Lemon Juice (either from a bottle or from a lemon) mixed with a bit of table salt. In a small cup, mix the cupful of lemon juice with two to three very small spoonfuls of salt. Dip your toothbrush in and gently rub. Rinse mouth with water. Do not apply salt directly to the brush. Do this once every second day for up to 5 times. After doing this, brush your teeth with toothpaste – acids can actually cause tooth staining if left on the teeth.

2. Try fruit! Rub a strawberry on your front teeth before brushing your teeth with regular or whitening toothpaste.

3. Baking soda. Mix fresh baking soda with some cold water and gently rub teeth with the mixture. Use the flat part of your finger or a soft bristle toothbrush dipped into the baking soda to apply the baking soda to your front teeth. Do not rub vigorously or with a hard toothbrush. Let the baking soda sit for a couple of minutes, rubbing gently. Rinse mouth with clean water.

4. Or, try vinegar! Dip a soft toothbrush in vinegar and brush gently. Avoid excessive vinegar on your gums, the acid can make your gums feel unpleasant. Rinse mouth with water after. To get between the teeth, try dipping your floss in vinegar before flossing.

5. Make a paste of vinegar with baking soda. Mix vinegar with baking soda and apply the paste to your front teeth with your finger, rubbing gently using up and down motions. Rinse mouth with water. While rinsing, force water between teeth by closing teeth and pouring water into your mouth.

6. Some people try brushing or even rinsing their teeth with hydrogen peroxide. This may whiten your teeth, but the peroxide can damage your gums and the lining of your mouth. Also, keep in mind that the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the bottles you can buy, and in the whitening agents you can buy, is different. If you do choose to do this, dab the peroxide on a tiny bit at a time with a cotton swab, to prevent any peroxide from touching your gums.

An important thing to remember with these home remedies for teeth whitening methods is to be patient. It will take time to remove the stains on the teeth, and it may take several weeks to see results. Don’t forget to continue your normal teeth and mouth cleaning regimen as well.

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