How to Prevent Tooth Staining & Discoloration

posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 12/6/2022 in General

woman looking at color of her teeth relative to color chart

Are your teeth not as white as they used to be? There are many factors that can cause your teeth to appear dull, dark, and even yellow. If you’re looking for easy ways to brighten and whiten your teeth, we have tips on how to reverse and prevent tooth staining and discoloration. 

What is Tooth Discoloration and Staining?

Tooth discoloration, as its name suggests, is when your tooth changes color. Common discoloration colors include yellow, gray, brown, and even black. Depending on the hue, you may need mild or more intensive whitening services. 

If your tooth is discolored it may be the result of tooth staining. This is when highly pigmented foods or drinks leave behind a residue that can change the color of your teeth. Discoloration and staining are less than ideal when you want a beautiful bright, white smile. 

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

Now that you know what discoloration is, here are five of the biggest causes that lead to tooth discoloration and staining.


Unfortunately, many of our favorite foods are the main culprits of tooth discoloration. These are a few foods known to leave behind stains on your teeth.  

Foods that can cause discoloration: 

  • Coffee and tea. Coffee and tea contain tannins, a plant compound that provides flavor, but can also create intense stains that discolor your teeth.
  • Soda. A soft drink’s high sugar content and acidity causes teeth to discolor.
  • Red and white wines. It’s not just soda that’s acidic, Unfortunately, the acid content in red and white wines result in staining and discoloration too.
  • Fruits, vegetables, and starchy foods. Even healthy foods can create stains. Fruits like blueberries, vegetables such as potatoes, and starchy foods like pasta can change the color of your teeth.   

The food we eat plays a vital role in enjoying good dental health. Ask your dentist or research the best foods for your gums and teeth.  

Smoking Cigarettes and Chewing Tobacco 

When you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine and tar chemicals break down your tooth's enamel, which can cause your teeth to discolor. Further, nicotine combined with oxygen makes your teeth yellow, while tar can add a brown hue to your teeth. 

Tar is also a primary chemical of chewing tobacco. If you leave it in your mouth for long periods of time, you can experience severe tooth discoloration. Discoloration is a mild consequence of smoking and chewing tobacco. However, continuing with these lifestyle habits can lead to more serious health problems such as gum disease and even oral cancer.  

Bad Dental Habits

When you don’t brush your teeth or floss regularly, you’re skipping an easy step in preventing discoloration. If you eat any of the aforementioned teeth-staining foods and forget to brush your teeth, you’re building up plaque that keeps stains on your teeth. If left too long, it can be difficult to transform your teeth back to their pearly whites.  


In some cases, trauma to your mouth and teeth can result in blood leaking through your dental nerves and discoloring your tooth pulp. As a result, your tooth will darken and may continue to change shades for days, weeks, and sometimes months. If your mouth or teeth are injured or experience trauma, see your dentist immediately so he or she can take appropriate action before the condition worsens. 

Medical Treatments and Prescription Side Effects

Medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation may cause your teeth to discolor. Some antibiotics can interfere with enamel formation, which then affects the color of your teeth. Before going through these treatments or taking medications, talk to your dentist and doctor about possible discoloration side effects.  


Age may play a factor in the discoloration of your teeth. Enamel might break down as you age, which reveals the darker dentin underneath, giving you teeth a yellow or gray look. If you suspect this might be the case for you, discuss whitening options with your dentist. 

How to Keep Your Teeth White  

Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid most discoloration and staining. These three tips will help you prevent this condition.

Change Your Diet 

Consider changing your diet so it limits the amount of teeth-staining foods you eat and drink. In addition to the foods already mentioned, try to eat less tomato-based sauces or curries. These foods are infamous for staining your clothes and your teeth.  

Use Tooth-Whitening Products 

If the thought of skipping your morning coffee, tea, or evening glass of wine gives you anxiety, there is a solution for that too. Use a whitening toothpaste that has been certified for stain removal. Brush your teeth with this special toothpaste to remove the heavy pigment that might be left behind on your teeth. You can also try over-the-counter whiteners such as trays and strips. These usually come in a kit that you can use at home. 

Discuss Teeth-Whitening Products with Your Dentist 

While trying home remedies and practicing good oral hygiene are great prevention tactics, the best way to whiten your teeth is to opt for professional treatments performed by your dentist. The Kimball & Beecher dentists provide a suite of teeth whitening solutions including Pola Luminate, a brush-on tooth whitening system, as well as the Whitening for Life Program, an ongoing whitening treatment option.

Whiten Your Teeth with a Kimball & Beecher Dentist

Flashing a healthy, white smile is easy when you have a great dentist taking care of your teeth. If you’re searching for effective ways to whiten your teeth, look no further than Kimball & Beecher. Our dentists know how to transform your teeth to display the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Schedule an appointment with a Kimball & Beecher dentist to get started today.

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

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