How can I Avoid Stains on my Teeth?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Stains on your teeth can be unsightly, and naturally many people would like to avoid them. Most are caused chewing foods or consumables (like tobacco) that have staining properties. In a few cases, stains may be caused by medications. In this last case, they are usually an unfortunate side effect of required medications, and your best bet may be to consider porcelain veneers to disguise tooth discoloration.

Chewing sugar-free gum may help remove the plaque that causes staining on the teeth.
Chewing sugar-free gum may help remove the plaque that causes staining on the teeth.

There are many foods that can stain your teeth. Coffee and tea are two of the biggest culprits, as is tobacco, which accounts for significant staining whether it is smoked or chewed. Curry powder with its bright red, brown, or yellow color can cause yellow stained teeth. Most berries, which are rich in color will cause stains too. In reality, there are many foods that are likely to stain the teeth, including both artificially or naturally colored foods.

Not smoking can help a person avoid stains on the teeth.
Not smoking can help a person avoid stains on the teeth.

You can, of course, avoid all these foods, but that might keep you on a very limited diet. Instead, the best way to avoid stains on your teeth is to brush regularly. If you eat a few berries on your cereal at breakfast, finish the meal with two minutes of brushing with a good toothpaste, preferably one that contains fluoride. Many electric toothbrushes are praised for being better able to eliminate plaque, but even a manual toothbrush will do if you’re a good brusher who keeps it up for two minutes. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after consuming any food or beverages, but chewing sugarless gum after meals when you can’t brush can additionally cut down on plaque build up and staining.

Coffee is a major cause of stained teeth.
Coffee is a major cause of stained teeth.

It's also important for you to attend dental cleaning appointments twice a year. This can help remove any stubborn plaque to which stains might stick. When you have plastic fillings, it’s especially important to brush your teeth regularly and see your dentist twice a year. Many stains can be lifted off teeth, but they can’t be removed from adhesives that are attached to the teeth. Instead any plastic or tooth-colored adhesive has to be replaced to eliminate stains.

Regular brushing can prevent stains from appearing between cleanings.
Regular brushing can prevent stains from appearing between cleanings.

If you take a liquid form of iron, you are very likely to have stains on your teeth. You should always brush right after taking this type of supplement, and you might want to consider switching to a capsule or pill so that the iron does not have to come into contact with the teeth. Smokers and tobacco chewers tend to have the worst stains on their teeth, so quitting can help reduce this problem, and it is simply a healthy choice to make overall.

Mouthwash helps prevent bacteria from growing.
Mouthwash helps prevent bacteria from growing.

Some medications, like tetracycline, can directly cause internal staining to the teeth, which can’t be eliminated by brushing or bleaching. Others cause dry mouth, which means food particles more readily stick to the teeth and result in extrinsic or exterior staining. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can create dry mouth, including most decongestants, antihistamines, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and tranquilizers.

Over the counter teeth whitening products may help improve the appearance of stained teeth.
Over the counter teeth whitening products may help improve the appearance of stained teeth.

To minimize stains if you must take medications that cause significant dry mouth, brushing regularly is extremely important. People with dry mouth are more predisposed to tooth decay and bacterial build up. You can help address this by using an antibacterial mouthwash after each brushing and drinking plenty of water.

Biannual dental cleanings can help prevent teeth from getting stained.
Biannual dental cleanings can help prevent teeth from getting stained.
Brushing with baking soda can help keep teeth clean and stain-free.
Brushing with baking soda can help keep teeth clean and stain-free.
Drinking coffee and smoking are two common ways that people stain their teeth.
Drinking coffee and smoking are two common ways that people stain their teeth.
Some dentists recommend using an electric toothbrush on stained teeth.
Some dentists recommend using an electric toothbrush on stained teeth.
Tooth discoloration could be disguised or covered up by porcelain veneers.
Tooth discoloration could be disguised or covered up by porcelain veneers.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon306994

Whitening toothpaste is only effective (keeps stains at bay) after you have had your teeth professionally whitened using hydrogen peroxide or carbon peroxide.

Tufenkian925

Toothpaste is a great way to keep your teeth white and healthy. There are also other natural ways that you can supplement your teeth's whiteness, by watching what you consume and ingest, and keeping a healthy diet of calcium and vitamin d.

arod2b42

Plaque on your teeth can make fillings necessary. These can cause cavities over time, leaving the sensitive inner parts of the teeth exposed and vulnerable to rotting. Fillings buttress the structure of the teeth after it has seen significant damage in the form of cavities.

Leonidas226

If you are drinking coffee and/or smoking regularly, you will likely develop stains on your teeth. It is important to brush regularly to counteract this effect. Whitening toothpaste can sometimes remedy the effects of tobacco, but it takes much longer than simply desisting from tobacco, which is preferable.

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