What Causes Stained Teeth?

teeth that are stainedTeeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic procedures dentists will perform, as it can remove your stains to leave you with a brighter smile. The procedure can be performed in the dentist’s office or at home, depending on your needs. However, while teeth whitening can improve your smile, your teeth can still become stained later, and you will probably need a retreatment. While this is a normal occurrence, you can learn the causes of stained teeth, in order to help protect them from stains in the future.

Two Different Types of Stains

There are actually two kinds of stains, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic are more common, and are stains in the enamel only. This means that typical teeth whitening treatments can generally bleach the discoloration out of your teeth, though not permanently. Extrinsic stains can be caused by:
• Drinks such as coffee, tea, red wine, and soda
• Tobacco
• Genetics—Some individuals have teeth more predisposed to stains.
• Poor oral hygiene—If you do not brush your teeth as recommended, or visit the dentist regularly, plaque can build on your teeth and help cause stains.

Intrinsic stains are discoloration in the dentin, the second layer of your tooth. These can be caused by certain medications, such as antidepressants, or disease. Teeth whitening treatments are generally ineffective because intrinsic discoloration is harder to remove. However, they can be covered by cosmetic treatments like porcelain veneers.

Protecting Your Teeth From Stains

There are numerous actions you can take to preserve your oral health, and stop stains from even forming. One of the most important things you can do is to brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once to prevent the buildup of plaque. You can also attend regularly scheduled dental appointments to allow us to check your teeth for any developing problems, and to clean any remaining plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) off of your teeth. Maintain a healthy diet, and limit the amount of sugary foods you eat, which exacerbate oral bacteria’s activity.


Located in West Allis, WI, Michael E. Flynn, DDS, and his talented team of dental care professionals proudly welcome patients from West Allis, Brookfield, Wauwatosa, and all Western Milwaukee communities. To learn more, or to schedule your next appointment, call Stubbs Family Dentistry today at 414-541-8250.