Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tooth Staining

Posted on 14/07/2017
Example of tartar removal

Tooth stains and enamel discolouration are often associated with the imbibing of certain beverages. We all know that excessive consumption of tea, coffee or red wine can cause tooth staining. There are three substances that make some drinks worse for staining your teeth than others. These are Chromogens, Tannins and Acids. Let’s explore them in a little more detail and then we’ll explain how we use AirFlow treatment to remove stains.

Three Staining Substances

The following substances all contribute to tooth staining:

  • Chromogens: In chemistry, these are particles that are capable of imparting a dye. In dentistry, the term has a similar sense – they are coloured particles that are capable of sticking to enamel, thus causing tooth discolouration. Coffee is very high in chromogens.
  • Tannins: A more familiar chemical. Tannins impart a bitter taste to the two most famous stain-producing drinks: black tea and red wine. Tannins make chromogens more effectively sticky. 
  • Acids: Acid attacks tooth enamel. This erodes the smooth exterior and makes patches that will stain more easily. Alcoholic drinks, sports drinks and fizzy sweet drinks all tend to be very acidic. 

An Additional Factor in Tooth Staining

We can’t talk about tooth staining without mentioning tobacco smoke. The yellowish-brown stains associated with the inhalation of nicotine are unsightly and one reason that many people cite for wanting to quit. Tobacco smoke is known to be carcinogenic and has been established as an aggravating factor in periodontal disease.

Effective Prevention of Stains

We’re not saying you have to give up coffee. If you care about the whiteness of your teeth, perhaps you should limit yourself to one or two cups a day and try to rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Same goes for wine and tea. The good news (for British tea drinkers) is that milk contains a protein that binds to tannins and reduces their effectiveness at helping chromogens stain your teeth. Reducing your consumption of drinks that cause staining and maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is the most effective way of preventing stains. 

Effective Treatment of Stains

Our practice is not a cosmetic practice, so we don’t offer teeth whitening. As an adjunct to our specialist procedures, we use a technique called AirFlow that combines water and compressed air to remove stains from teeth and crowns. This tool is faster and more effective than the standard ‘scrape and polish’ and is especially good for maintaining oral hygiene following an implant procedure.

If you would like any advice on maintaining a healthy smile, call our reception on 01603 632525 and arrange an appointment with one of our dental hygienists.

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