Over the years you may have noticed that your teeth have become stained. Those pearly whites are now dulled into a gray, or in some cases yellow or even brown color. You can reduce the amount of staining by maintaining a good oral health regimen. This includes brushing and flossing regularly, as well as avoiding certain foods, drinks, and substances (coffee and tobacco, for example, are big teeth stainers). However, even with good dental health habits, a little bit of staining over the years is a normal occurrence. In this week’s blog, we’ll talk about what it is exactly that stains your teeth. Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how teeth whitening works to reverse these stains.
How Do Teeth Get Stained?
You’re probably familiar with the enamel on your teeth. This is the outer layer that protects the inner dentin layer of the tooth. Food, drink, and other substances that you put in your mouth cause a layer called the pellicle film to build up on top of your enamel. Without proper dental care, this causes tooth decay, but it also causes staining. When you go to the dentist, he or she removes this film using abrasive treatment techniques. Brushing your teeth also can remove some of the pellicle film, but not all of it. The more abrasive the toothpaste, the more of the layer it removes.
Over time (years), the material in the pellicle film makes its way into your enamel. Enamel is porous, which allows the material to get far enough into the enamel that brushing or abrasion won’t remove them. It’s hard to imagine, but there are actually incredibly small hexagonal rods in your enamel where stain causing debris rests. There, it builds up and slowly causes visible stains of colors ranging from gray to yellow brown and even purple.
What Stains Teeth?
There are several substances that are notorious for staining teeth. Tobacco products are some of the worst offenders, with nicotine and tar along with a litany of other chemicals that yellow or brown your teeth over time.
The foods and drinks that stain teeth all have a few things in common. First, they contain chromogens. These are pigments that give food and drink its color. All food and drink have chromogens, but those with stronger colors are more likely to stain your teeth. Acidic food and drink are also stain producers, because the acid erodes enamel and makes it easier for chromogens to attach there. Finally, food and drink that contain tannins increase the severity of stains by, again, making the job of chromogens easier. Some common offenders are:
- Wine (red and white)
- Sports Drinks
- Berries (strong colored fruits)
- Sauces (soy, tomato, curry)
About Olney Dental
Olney Dental has been providing comprehensive dental care for residents of Olney and the surrounding area since 1985. We’re conveniently located on the campus of Montgomery General Hospital, and provide care for all ages for children to adults and seniors. We’re also independently owned by our dentists, which allows us be patient driven in our approach to dentistry. Your smiles make us smile! You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube.