Explaining Teeth Stains

There are many reasons why your teeth may stain, including your oral hygiene, food and drink choices, and medication use. Staining can occur on the surface of the tooth or below the enamel, or even both. The discoloration occurs as a result of surface stains, changes in your tooth material, or a combination of both factors. Tooth discoloration has three main categories:


Extrinsic tooth stains occur on the surface of the tooth when stain particles like pigmented residue from food/drink build up in the film of protein covering the tooth enamel. If you regularly drink coffee, tea, wine, or cola drinks, you risk extrinsic tooth staining. Tobacco use is another cause of extrinsic tooth stains. Brush your teeth with a whitening toothpaste and make regular visits to your dentist for cleanings.


Intrinsic tooth stains occur below the surface of the tooth when stain-causing particles work through the exterior of the tooth and accumulate within the tooth enamel. Excessive fluoride use has been associated with intrinsic tooth staining. Removing intrinsic tooth stains may require bleaching with professional or at-home chemical teeth-whitening products.


The core tissue of your teeth, known as dentin, naturally yellows over time. This explains why your teeth discolor with age. The enamel that covers the tooth thins over time, allowing the dentin to show through. These intrinsic causes combined with extrinsic causes like tobacco and certain foods/drinks cause most adults’ teeth to discolor with age.

Causes of Stained Teeth

There are many causes of discolored teeth, some of which are beyond your control, but others can be prevented. Coffee, tea, dark sodas, red wine, and even some fruits and vegetables can cause the discoloration of teeth. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco can be contributors as well as poor dental hygiene. Sometimes medical treatment can contribute to teeth staining, and so can some classes of medications such as high blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, antihistamines, and some antipsychotic medications. 

Jacksonville Dental Care

At Jacksonville Dental Care, we believe that everyone deserves a bright, clean, natural-looking smile. At Jacksonville Dental Care we have helped many patients correct years of oral neglect in just one or two comfortable and stress-free dental appointments. Contact us today!