Teeth stains: Causes And Types

brown stains on back of teeth

There are many different reasons why teeth can stain, including medication use, oral hygiene and your food and drink choices. Teeth stains happen on the surface of the tooth or below the tooth enamel and some people develop both types of teeth stains. The color of tooth is subjective and it can be hard to tell how well teeth – whitening products are working to remove or reduce teeth stains.

In one study done in 2004 by the Journal of Dentistry, was shown that even professionals disagree on tooth color when evaluating the same teeth and a single professional can estimate the whiteness of the same tooth differently on different occasions [1]. One approach of calculating the efficiency of whitening products is involving taking high – resolution digital images of teeth and assigning numerical values to describe whitening effects in three ways – a decrease in yellowness, decrease in redness and an increase in the lightness.

teeth stain remover


Teeth stains Causes

Teeth stains can be caused by many different causes. Some drinks and foods can cause teeth stains. Also, the teeth stain can be a product of several biological factors, including the transparency of the tooth enamel. As we have said, there are many different causes for teeth stains and some of them may have been prevented, but many of them are beyond your control. Here are the most common causes for teeth stains:

  • Oral care: The poor oral care, such as inadequate flossing or brushing, can lead to teeth stains. [2]
  • Food and drink: The red wine, dark sodas, tea, coffee and even a few fruits and vegetables can lead to teeth stains. [3]
  • Trauma or disease: Any disease, illness or trauma which affects the enamel development in children, either in the womb or while teeth are developing which is happening under the age of 8, can cause teeth stains. Also, trauma to the adult teeth can cause teeth stains. In addition to this factor, there are a few diseases and disease treatments which can cause teeth stains. For example, the chemotherapy and radiation can cause teeth stains. [4]
  • Tobacco: It is known that smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco can lead to teeth stains. [5]
  • Medical treatments: There are some cases when medical treatments can lead to teeth stains. Several classes of medications, including antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, some antipsychotic medications and chemotherapy can cause teeth stains.

It is very important to see your dentist, so you will know how to deal with this condition and which is the cause for it. Your dentist will make a test, so he will be sure for the cause of your teeth stains and give you the proper treatment.


The tooth stain can happen as a result of surface stains, due to actual changes in your tooth material or because of a combination of both factors. Dentists have identified three main categories of teeth stains:

  • Age – related teeth stains: The age – related teeth stains can combine the results of both extrinsic and intrinsic tooth stains. Due to the core tissue of your teeth, the dentin, naturally yellows over time and teeth discolor with age. As we are getting older, the enamel that covers the tooth becomes thinner and this is allowing the dentin to show through. [6]
  • Extrinsic teeth stains: The extrinsic tooth stain is the staining on the surface of the tooth. It happens when stain particles, such as pigmented residue from food or drink, build – up in the film of protein which covers the tooth enamel. Usually, the extrinsic teeth stains are caused by tobacco use or by regularly drinking cold drinks, wine, coffee and tea. This type of teeth stains responds well to the regular dental cleaning and brushing the teeth with whitening toothpaste.
  • Intrinsic teeth stains: The intrinsic teeth stain is the staining below the surface of the tooth. It happens when stain – causing particles work through the exterior of the tooth and they accumulate within the tooth enamel. Also, the excessive fluoride use is associated with the intrinsic teeth strains, especially in children. The intrinsic tooth stain is thicker to remove, but it can be done.


[1] Crest. Teeth stains: Causes, types, and how to remove teeth stains. Retrieved from crest.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/teeth-stains/teeth-stains-causes-types-how-remove-teeth-stains

[2] Ortiz-López CS, Veses V, Garcia-Bautista JA, Jovani-Sancho MM. Risk factors for the presence of dental black plaque. Scientific Reports. 2018;8:16752. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-35240-7

[3] Camara JVF, de Souza LPPS, Vargas DOA, et al. Effect of tooth enamel staining by coffee consumption during at-home tooth bleaching with carbamide peroxide. Revista de Odontologia da UNESP. 2020;49.

[4] Poulopoulos A, Papadopoulos P, Andreadis D. Chemotherapy: oral side effects and dental interventions -a review of the literature. Stomatological Disease and Science. 2017;1:35-49.

[5] Alkhatib MN, Holt RD, Bedi R. Smoking and tooth discolouration: findings from a national cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2005;5:27. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-5-27

[6] Haralur SB. Effect of age on tooth shade, skin color and skin-tooth color interrelationship in Saudi Arabian subpopulation. Journal of International Oral Health. 2015;7(8):33–6.


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