We all know that the regular consumption of coffee, tea and sodas can have a detrimental effect upon the whiteness of our teeth, but often that does not deter us from partaking! There is good news, however! There are ways to minimize the effect upon our teeth without giving up these beverages completely. To start let’s explore what causes the staining, and then we will discuss what can be done to treat and prevent it.
How do Teeth get Stained?
There are two main ways that teeth get stained: either extrinsic or intrinsic staining. Extrinsic staining, which is most common, occurs when external foods, drinks, or habits affect the outer layer (enamel) of the teeth. Intrinsic staining is when the inner structure of the tooth (dentin) darkens or gets a yellowish tint. Intrinsic staining is usually caused by trauma to the tooth, use of certain antibiotics, or other genetic conditions. The discoloration is formed from damage to the nerve or blood vessel.
Extrinsic staining is more common and more easily treated. Extrinsic staining happens due to consumption of certain foods or drinks, or due to smoking. The enamel of our teeth, although incredibly durable, is filled with microscopic pits and ridges that can hold food and drink particles well past the moment of consumption. The pigments from dark-colored drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda (or smoking) can embed themselves in these cracks and ridges and cause long term staining on the teeth.
How Do I Minimize Staining?
Tooth staining is primarily a cosmetic issue and typically does not indicate an issue with the health of your teeth. If you wish to minimize staining, however, there are ways to help ensure your best smile. Although giving up the offending beverage or habit may be the clearest cut means of preventing the staining caused on our teeth, that is for most of us impractical. Here are a few tips to help minimize staining on your teeth without eliminating the culprits altogether:
-Use a Straw: When drinking coffee, tea, or soda, the use of a straw minimizes the contact that these pigmented beverages have with the surface of your teeth, especially in the front of your mouth. The straw helps the drink to bypass the teeth as you consume it. If there are any sugars in your beverage this method also helps minimize their impact as well.
-Limit the Length of Time for Consumption: The cumulative amount of time per day that your teeth are exposed to these staining pigments makes a difference in the amount of staining to occur on the teeth. To minimize their impact, limit your consumption of these beverages to specific times throughout the day rather than sipping over long periods of time.
-Rinse Off: After enjoying your coffee, tea, or soda, rinse your mouth out with water or brush your teeth to remove the offending pigments from the surface of your teeth.
-Use a Whitening Toothpaste: The use of a whitening toothpaste can help minimize the staining that appears on your teeth from the consumption of such beverages. You can purchase whitening treatments over the counter, usually made up of a bleaching gel and a mouth guard. When worn as indicated over a period of time, they can help with the removal of extrinsic stains.
In addition to these tips, stay on top of your regular dental cleanings, as our hygienists can help clean your teeth more thoroughly and remove many of the surface stains on your teeth that may become problem areas. Your best smile is possible!
If you are concerned about the color of your teeth and would like to explore options for improving your overall smile, our talented team of dental professionals is here to help!