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Brad M. Freedman, DDS & Associates
4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration

What if we told you that close to a quarter of all Americans are embarrassed to smile? Unfortunately, many Americans suffer from stained and discolored teeth. If you suffer from discolored teeth, it’s easy to see why stained teeth would make people feel self-conscious. Stained teeth make people appear unattractive and unhealthy, adding to their concerns. But, stained teeth don’t have to be permanent, there are solutions available!

Why Do Teeth Start to Appear Stained or Dull?

Common reasons for discolored teeth include:

Age – This happens to everyone, although genetics can play a role in how soon a person’s teeth yellow. The outer layer of the teeth, or the enamel, naturally wears away with age, and the yellow dentin underneath begins to show through.

Poor Dental Care – Not brushing and flossing daily will cause plaque buildup, making teeth look dingy and dull.

Foods and Beverages – Certain foods and beverages will stain teeth with consistent use, such as coffee and tea.

Tobacco Use – Smoking or using smokeless tobacco will stain teeth.

Trauma – Damage to a tooth from an accident or injury can discolor a tooth from the inside, making it appear grey.

Medications and Illnesses – Certain medications and illnesses can also discolor teeth. Certain medical treatments, like chemotherapy to the head or neck can stain teeth.

Old or Failing Fillings – Old metal fillings or failing fillings can discolor the tooth and your dentist will have to replace the filling and crown the tooth.

What Foods Will Stain My Teeth?

Some delicious, nutritious foods and beverages can stain your teeth or attack the tooth enamel, which in turn makes your teeth appear darker, including:

  • Coffee, teas, and colas.
  • Dark fruit juices and fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberry juice, beets, and more.
  • Dark sauces like soy sauce, balsamic vinegar.
  • Sugar and starch-filled treats and foods such as potatoes, white pastas, candy and gummy-type candies.

What Foods Can Help Me Keep My Teeth Whiter?

Certain Foods will help you combat tooth staining, including:

  • Sugarless Gum – Chew after eating or drinking foods that can stain your teeth if brushing isn’t practical. As a bonus, it will freshen your breath.
  • Celery and Carrots – Add these veggies to your salad or better yet, eat sticks of them raw, and they will help scrub away stains. If you are at a party, eat a celery stick after indulging in red wine to help mitigate the damage.
  • Apples – These are known as nature’s toothbrush for a good reason. They can help scrub away stains and make your teeth feel clean.
  • Strawberries – Strawberries, unlike other red berries, have stain-fighting malic acid in them.
  • Nuts – Nuts exfoliate teeth.
  • Raw Onions – Raw onions can stop plaque from forming on your teeth, but they won’t do wonders for your breath.

Is Tobacco Ruining Your Smile?

If you use tobacco, it will ruin your smile. This is a fact.

Why Is Tobacco So Bad?

Nicotine from smoking or using smokeless tobacco is colorless, but when exposed to air, it turns yellow. Compared to a person who does not use tobacco, someone who does is twice as likely to develop gum disease. Unfortunately, if a smoker ever needed a dental implant to replace a tooth lost to gum disease, they wouldn’t be a suitable candidate for the surgery. Smokers have weaker immune systems and don’t heal as quickly as nonsmokers.

How Can Smokers Help Mitigate the Damage from Tobacco Use?

Smokers can help mitigate damage from nicotine by:

  • Being diligent with their dental hygiene
  • Getting their teeth professionally cleaned twice a year
  • Brushing after smoking
  • Trying to limit tobacco use

How Can Tobacco Users Make Their Teeth Look Better?

Over-the-counter whitening gels and strips can’t really whiten long-term smoker’s teeth. A professional whitening treatment from a dentist is about the only option for people looking for white teeth. If you continue to use tobacco, the treatment will not last as long as it would normally. Quitting is the only permanent option. Quitting tobacco use isn’t easy by any means, but your dentist may have resources for you which can help.

What Can I Do To Help Keep My Teeth White?

To maintain your white teeth and avoid stains:

  • Take good care of your teeth at home. Brush and floss as recommended by your dentist.
  • Have a dental exam and a dental teeth cleaning every six months.
  • Brush or rinse your mouth with water after consuming staining foods and beverages.
  • Stop smoking.

What Whitening Options Are Available?

You have numerous choices for whitening your teeth. Consult your dentist so he or she can determine the reason for the staining, the condition of your teeth and the extent of the discoloration before recommending a product. Typical choices include:

Toothpastes – Whitening toothpastes are abrasive and contain a polishing agent to make your teeth brighter, but they do not have a bleaching agent in them. Whitening toothpastes are especially useful for mild staining for foods and beverages, but they are not strong enough to whiten smoker’s teeth.

Over-the-Counter Bleaching Strips – Look for ADA-accepted products, which are generally safe to use as directed, although they are not as effective as dentist administered products.

Whitening Tray Systems – You can get a custom whitening tray from a dentist to use at home. It may take about two weeks, but these systems are far more effective than OTC tray whitening systems. You can buy less effective, but less expensive tray whitening systems in local stores or online. They just use a less concentrated bleaching agent. Beware of spas, cruise ships and mall kiosks offering tray-based whitening systems. These are less effective than those offered by a dentist and there is no one trained to treat severe tooth sensitivity if you experience it. Plus, just because the person wears a white coat does not mean they are trained to evaluate your suitability for the treatment.

In-office Teeth Whitening Treatments – These treatments offer dramatic, fast results. A dentist will determine your suitability for the treatment and can color match the shade to existing veneers and crowns.

Veneers and Crowns – Veneers and crowns can cover stained teeth that won’t respond to bleaching, such as stains deep inside the tooth.

One of our dentists can evaluate the reason your teeth are discolored and recommend a treatment that will give you the results you want.

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Brad M. Freedman, DDS & Associates

4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

(703) 940-1886