Everyday Habits that can stain your teeth
Our teeth are exposed to so many elements everyday, it’s no wonder it can feel like they become dull and discoloured with time. Stains or discolouration on our teeth come in two different forms: intrinsic staining and extrinsic staining. It is important to understand which type of staining or discolouration your teeth have so that it can be best managed.
Intrinsic stains are those that are found internally and are often caused through developmental factors, a history of trauma or antibiotic use. It is always best to speak to your dental professional about the ways to improve the aesthetics of any intrinsic staining if this is the case.
Extrinsic staining can be caused by external factors as a result of our daily habits.
Here are some habits that can cause extrinsic stains to your teeth and some tips to reduce the amount of staining that can develop:
Coffee/tea/wine and other dark coloured beverages
Coffee – the elixir of life! I know I can’t function without my cup of coffee in the morning, but as comforting as they are, beverages such as coffee, tea and wines contain tannins which can cause their colour compounds to stick to your teeth. Adding milk to your daily cup of coffee or choosing a coffee with less caffeine can help to reduce the amount of staining.
Tea – What’s crazy is that tea is more likely to stain your teeth than coffee. This is because there is a higher tannin content found in black and green tea. Try drinking a cup of water or rinsing in between your cups of tea to reduce the amount of tannins left in your mouth.
Wine – acidic beverages such as red wine can lead to the surface of our enamel becoming etched. This causes the dark red particles found in wine to readily stick to the tooth surface. Avid wine drinkers, also tend to enjoy the taste of wine by holding it in their mouth to savour the flavours however this can lead to increased exposure time resulting in more staining and an increased risk for dental erosion. Therefore, it is important to not hold beverages such as wine in our mouth for too long and to rinse after where possible.
Of course, the best way to reduce staining from these types of beverages is drink through a straw or to reduce consumption altogether. If this is not possible, it may be best to schedule frequent professional cleaning appointments with your dental professional to keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape. The team at True Smiles Dental can definitely help you with this.
Dark coloured foods such as berries (blueberries, raspberries, mulberries), beetroot or rich sauces such as curries or soy sauce can also result in increased discolouration or staining. Our rule of thumb is if it can stain your clothes, most likely it can also stain your teeth. Therefore, it is important to try and reduce contact time where possible and not hold dark coloured foods or beverages in the mouth for longer than necessary.
Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots can also help provide a ‘natural scrubbing’ motion which can act as a natural stain remover. Crunchy foods promote increased saliva production which in turn allows for dilution of the mouth. Not only does this reduce staining, it allows helps to reduce your risk of decay.
Smoking is the second most common reason why we may develop stains on our teeth, whether the tobacco is being smoked or chewed. Additionally, smoking has also been found to be linked with oral cancers and advanced gum disease. Staining cause from smoking is generally more difficult (but not impossible!) to remove, so if there weren’t enough reasons already to quit smoking, perhaps maintaining your pearly whites could be one of them.
Over-exposure to Chlorine
Something that is not well known is that swimming is a hobby that can result in dental staining. That’s right! Studies have found that constant exposure to chlorine can result in a residue adhering to your teeth, causing them to pick up more stains. Swimming pools are often treated with an antimicrobial agent such as chlorine to help kill bacteria and keep the water clean. This gives the pool water a higher pH level than the saliva in your mouth and can cause the salivary proteins to break down quicker than usual, resulting in higher levels of build-up known as ‘calculus’ which is more prone to picking up stains.
Dental stains and enamel erosion from constant exposure to chlorine can often be found in individuals who swim regularly in chlorinated pools. Luckily, staining that comes from swimming in chlorinated pools can be removed through professional dental cleans.
Not drinking enough water
Drinking lots of water every day is important not just for hydrating our body but also our mouths. We recommend drinking at least 2 litres of water per day to help with hydrating our bodies and mouths!
Drinking lots of water has the ability to not only wash away all the tannins and debris in our mouth after a meal or beverage, but also helps to increase salivary flow. Saliva also has wonderful anti-microbial properties which help to prevent tooth decay.
Not brushing and flossing daily
Dental plaque and biofilm tend to pick up more colour and stains from the food and beverages we consume. It goes without saying that good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing can minimise the amount of plaque and bacteria left on our teeth. But did you know that the when you should brush plays an important role too? For example, if you know you will be having a cheeky glass of wine at dinner, brushing about 30 minutes before dinner can help to remove the sticky plaque on your teeth so that the dark wine pigments are not able to stick as readily. Similarly, it is important to not brush until at least 30 minutes after drinking wine as the acid from the wine can lead to a softening of your enamel resulting in dental erosion.
Switching to an electric toothbrush can also help to effectively remove more plaque and bacteria when brushing. Need to know which electric toothbrush is right for you? Speak to one of our dental professionals at True Smiles Dental today.
Using oral products with Chlorhexidine
Chlorhexidine can be found in some mouthwashes and is best known for having anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chlorhexidine mouth rinses can be very helpful under the guidance of a dental professional to help treat acute dental infections but should only be used for short periods of time. Prolonged use of chlorhexidine mouth rinses can result in a brown residue or stain adhering to the teeth. Always consult your dental professional regarding the use of chlorhexidine mouth rinses.
Avoiding dental visits
Over a period of time, plaque and bacteria adhere to your teeth, even if we are diligent with our brushing and flossing. This build up can attract more stains and tends to make our teeth appear more yellow or brown. Thus, it is important to visit your dentist or hygienist for a professional clean routinely. Speak to the team at True Smiles Dental about booking in for your next check-up and clean.
At True Smiles Dental, we know it’s hard to give up on that much needed coffee or glass of wine. That is why we have invested in making the process of stain removal as pain-free and seamless as possible! Our state-of-the-art EMS airflow machine allows for such a feat to be achieved! The combination of air pressure and micro particles are super effective against stains. As a result, the much-dreaded instruments like the ultrasonic scaler (the one that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard) aren’t needed for stain removal. The experience becomes much more pleasant and far more comfortable. Did we mention that it uses warm water also? Therefore, increasing your comfort and reducing any cold-water sensitivity when you come in for your clean.
Other alternatives to brighten your smile?
The use of ‘whitening’ toothpaste can also aid in removing extrinsic stains. This is because whitening toothpaste often contain abrasive particles which can help to ‘scrub’ off the stains. As whitening toothpaste is often considered more abrasive, it should be used with caution and for only short periods of time. Whitening toothpaste commonly result in increased tooth sensitivity which may go unnoticed for quite some time.
A regular polish and clean will remove surface staining, but a professional whitening treatment may help to bring your smile to a whole new level.
The team at True Smiles Dental are proud to be offering the Phillips ZOOM in-chair whitening system which can achieve up to 8 shades whiter in one 45-60 minute session.
To find out if professional whitening is suitable for you, contact our practice to keep your smile stain-free, bright and white.
The team at True Smiles Dental are always happy to help with any questions you may have in regards to staining, or teeth whitening. Call us now on (02) 7228 7272 or visit www.truesmilesdental.com.au to book online!