Causes of Tooth Discoloration By Burton Gooch on March 11, 2019

Before and after teeth whitening treatmentHaving a bright, white, beautiful smile is essential for looking good and feeling great about yourself. Unfortunately, there are so many things that can cause your teeth to become stains and discolored. Birmingham, AL dentist Dr. Burton Gooch offers numerous cosmetic dentistry procedures that can brighten your smile and whiten your teeth.

Prevention and education are solid bedrocks of healthy smiles. With that in mind, the team at Gooch Family Dental would like to go over some of the most common causes of tooth discoloration and dental stains below.

Types of Tooth Discoloration

There are two kinds of dental stains:

  • Intrinsic Dental Stains - Intrinsic dental stains are stains that originate from within the tooth rather than the surface enamel.
  • Extrinsic Dental Stains - Extrinsic dental stains are stains that affect the enamel layer of the tooth. These are these stains most people are familiar with since they are associated with food, beverages, and other items.

It’s also possible for teeth to be discolored because of a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Smoking and Use of Tobacco Products

Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco are major causes of extrinsic dental stains, turning the teeth dingy, yellow, and brown. Tobacco products also increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. If you want to have a beautiful and healthy smile, consider kicking the habit for good.

Poor Oral Hygiene

A lack of brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups can lead to extrinsic and intrinsic stains that go untreated, causing your smile to look dingy and unhealthy.

Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are well known causes of extrinsic dental stains. This is why people who drink coffee or tea often tend to have discolored front teeth.

Red Wine

Red wine is another common cause of dental stains on the tooth enamel. While white wines and champagne can also cause stains, reds are most notorious.

Cola and Other Soft Drinks

Cola beverages and any kind of soda can lead to extrinsic dental stains as well as an increased risk of tooth decay. Consider drinking these beverages through a straw to bypass the teeth.


Whether it’s in the form of whole tomatoes, pasta sauce, salsa, or tomato juice, frequently having tomatoes can lead to extrinsic dental stains over time.


Beets have become more popular as a healthy and extremely nutritious addition to people’s diets, but the distinct redness can lead to stained tooth enamel.


Curry is flavorful and delicious, but the downside is that these aromatic dishes can result in extrinsic dental stains.

Injuries to a Tooth

If a tooth is injured, the pulp within may react by becoming discolored. This can lead to extrinsic discoloration of the tooth, typically involving the tooth becoming darker.

Use of Antibiotics

Frequent use of tetracycline and certain antibiotics at a young age can cause teeth to become internally discolored. This is why doctors must be cautious when prescribing these drugs.

Excessive Fluoride Exposure

Fluoride is good for your teeth, but you can always have too much of a good thing. Excessive fluoride exposure can cause spots on your teeth to become whiter than they should be.

Genetic Conditions

In rare cases, a person may suffer from a genetic condition that causes their teeth to appear grey or darker than normal. Genetics can also play factors propensity toward staining.

Long Term Wear and Tear

Your teeth are bound to look worse over time after decades of eating, drinking, and environmental exposure. Regular dental visits can minimize the extent of discoloration with age.

Learn More About Tooth Discoloration Treatments

For more information about having a brighter, whiter, and healthier smile, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist. The team at Gooch Family Dental is here to help. You can reach our dentistry practice by phone at (205) 545-8001.

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Gooch Family Dental

Gooch Family Dental

Gooch Family Dental is dedicated to providing convenient, comprehensive dentistry from our dental office in Birmingham, AL. We take advantage of the latest dental technology to streamline treatment, and deliver fast, beautiful results. Our proud affiliations include:

  • The American Dental Association
  • Academy of General Dentistry
  • Birmingham District Dental Society
  • The Alabama Dental Association

You can learn more about our services, and schedule an appointment today by filling out our online form, or by calling (205) 991-9892.

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