Stained Teeth: What Stains Teeth and What to Do About It?

Nothing ruins a beautiful smile quicker than stained teeth.


Coffee and tea-drinking people aren’t the only ones who have to worry about stained teeth. Teeth stains can happen to anyone and can be extremely embarrassing, that is difficult to avoid. However, we have some great solutions for you and advice to prevent, according to Dr. Stella Oh.

Having Yellow Teeth: When brushing won’t work anymore

Obviously, the frequency of removing the plaque and source of stain will affect the staining. Most of our patients work effortlessly to have a bright, white smile. Some have tried so many teeth whitening products while several keep an attractive smile with basic dental hygiene: brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleaning.

But even if you retain excellent care of your teeth, why would you still have yellow teeth?

2 Causation Factors for Tooth Discoloration

Stains or Tooth Discoloration can be caused by two factors: intrinsic or extrinsic.


Intrinsic factors are those things that you don’t have total control over. The yellow stains on teeth are within the dentin (deeper, the core part of the tooth structure) and they are incorporated during teeth development.  Taking tetracycline as a child to fight infection can cause permanent teeth stains. Tetracycline is an antibiotic that stains teeth either a mild yellow-orange color or bluish gray in more extreme cases. Also, having fluorosis – a condition that develops from a high fluoride concentration in drinking water- causes yellow discoloration of the teeth.

Extrinsic factors, on the other hand, encompass things that you do have control of. Regularly drinking red wine, tea and coffee or smoking tobacco can cause significantly discolored teeth. Eating highly acidic foods or switching between hot and cold foods can cause pores in the enamel of your teeth to open and close, trapping particles under the surface. Using poor brushing techniques or not caring for your teeth properly can allow bacteria and possibly decay to build upon the surface of the teeth and cause yellow and green stains.

Popular food & drink that discolors teeth:

Watch what you eat and drink. Certain foods and beverages can discolor teeth. If you want to protect your teeth, then here are some common food and drinks to avoid.


Coffee and Tea

Your coffee and tea can cause very noticeable stains on your teeth. Coffee may get you going in the morning, but it won’t make your teeth glowing. Coffee teeth stains occur over time, and these stains can make you self-conscious. But you don’t need to live with coffee stained teeth.

Coffee and tea stains occur when tannins in both of them build upon tooth enamel. Tannins are organic substances found in plants. Tannins in coffee, tea, and even wine can lead to stains on teeth. In fact, some black teas can even cause more tooth discoloration than coffee!  In addition, poor oral hygiene leaving the plaque build up on the teeth will cause more staining since the plaque absorbs teeth staining.


Probably everyone knows that smoking is not healthy for the body.  It is also detrimental to dental health and your smile. It’s known to cause gum disease, dental decay and most importantly, oral and head and neck cancer.   “Smoke from smoking causes the most stubborn stains,” says Dr. Oh. “Smoking is also related to dry mouth and combination of dry mouth and smoking makes the stains very difficult to remove.”  Dr. Oh recommends more frequent professional cleaning for smokers.


Red wine


Red wine is received much attention from the general public due to its health benefits from resveratrol.  However, it is notorious for staining teeth.

Dark Colored Fruits and Vegetables


Dark colored fruits such as berries are also the culprit of staining teeth.  Even dark vegetables such as collard greens and beets can stain teeth if not cleaned right away.  Dark green or red vegetable juices can stain teeth just like red wine. We do not think about the vegetable juices as a source of staining teeth as we associate the drinks as healthy options.   


Food seasoned with healthy spices like turmeric and red pepper can also stain teeth.  Most popular curry dishes can stain teeth.

Medications during childhood like Tetracycline (this rarely happens now since it is widely known in the pediatric community), but there are many adults with yellow, orange and brown discolorations due to having been given tetracycline during childhood.

What you can do with your stained teeth at home:


  • Changing dietary habits (eating schedule, using a straw for coffee or tea, etc)  Since most dark colored food items are so healthy, Dr. Oh does not necessarily want her patients to stop consuming them.   Instead, eating less frequently and using a straw whenever one can be helpful. Rising with pure water immediately after consuming this food and drinks would help too.
  • Improving Oral hygiene habits (e.g. making sure to brush before bedtime)
  • Schedule Professional Dental Cleaning More Often(every 4 months instead of 6 months)

How Dr. Stella Oh and Dr. Estafan Can Help You Remove the Stains on Your Teeth


Dental checkup and cleaning Dental appointments should be done at least every 6 months. Some people need a cleaning more often.  You will notice the more often your teeth get cleaned the whiter and smoother the teeth become.

Tooth whitening.  One of the greatest and most conservative ways to improve that smile is by making your teeth look whiter. It won’t work for everyone, and not all whitening products are created equal. Ask Dr Oh or Dr Estafan which product might be best for you.

Porcelain Veneers. If all of the above doesn’t work, consider porcelain veneers.  These are actually the only solutions for intrinsic stains or extremely stubborn stains.  Do you love red wine or curry too much? Porcelain doesn’t stain the way tooth enamel does.  Since many of these tooth staining foods have excellent health benefits, it’s doesn’t always make sense to give them up for the sake of your pearly white smile. There is a way to enjoy both.  Dr Oh and Dr Estafan have the top, necessary specialty training to recommend whether you are a good candidate for cosmetic dental procedures like porcelain veneers.

Call us today to make an appointment to get the whitest and most beautiful teeth.  We are glad to answer you with any question and provide with excellent result.