What Causes External Stains and Teeth Discoloration?

Smiling is an important expression of happiness, confidence, and sociability. However, discolored teeth can diminish the brightness of those pearly whites, making us hesitant to show off our smiles. External stains and teeth discoloration are common dental woes that can be caused by a variety of factors. In this article, we will explore the main culprits behind external stains and discoloration, shedding light on the importance of oral hygiene and adopting preventive measures to maintain a healthy, radiant smile.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Neglecting oral hygiene practices can lead to the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, can easily develop due to inadequate brushing and flossing. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar, a substance that contributes to teeth discoloration. The yellowish or brownish stains caused by tartar can be unsightly and difficult to remove without professional dental intervention.

Food and Drinks

What we eat and drink plays a significant role in the discoloration of our teeth. Certain foods and beverages, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-colored fruits, contain chromogens – pigmented molecules that attach to the enamel and stain the teeth. Acidic substances like citrus fruits and soda can erode tooth enamel, making the teeth more vulnerable to staining.

Tobacco Use

Smoking or using other tobacco products is notorious for causing teeth discoloration. Nicotine and tar found in tobacco can easily seep into the porous enamel, resulting in brownish or yellowish stains that are often difficult to remove. Moreover, tobacco use increases the risk of gum disease, further exacerbating dental problems and staining.

Aging and Genetics

As we age, the enamel on our teeth naturally wears down, revealing the yellowish dentin underneath. This gradual thinning of the enamel can lead to teeth discoloration. Additionally, genetics can influence the color and thickness of the enamel, predisposing some individuals to greater susceptibility to stains and discoloration.


Certain medications, such as antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications, can have side effects that cause teeth discoloration. These medications may either directly affect tooth enamel or cause dry mouth, which reduces saliva flow and allows bacteria and stains to accumulate more easily.

Trauma and Dental Procedures

Trauma or injury to the teeth, such as fractures or cracks, can result in discoloration. When the inner part of the tooth, called the dentin, is damaged, it may darken or turn gray. Additionally, certain dental procedures, like root canals or fillings, can cause changes in tooth color over time.


Discolored teeth can have various causes, including poor oral hygiene, consumption of staining food and drinks, tobacco use, aging, genetics, medications, and dental trauma or procedures. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing and flossing, along with routine dental check-ups, are crucial for the prevention and management of external stains and teeth discoloration. Avoiding tobacco use, limiting the consumption of stain-causing substances, and discussing any concerns with a dental professional can also help maintain a bright, healthy smile. At Kidz & Family Dental Center, our expert team is dedicated to providing comprehensive dental care and helping patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health. Schedule an appointment with us to experience the confidence that comes with a radiant smile.


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