Brown stains can occur anywhere on teeth. Maybe you’ve had them for as long as you can remember, or maybe you only noticed them recently, but the effects are similar—you’re probably concerned about the health of your teeth, and you worry that others may notice. Certain daily habits and poor oral care can cause brown teeth stains and mottled teeth, or the cause might be more complicated.
Stains on the surfaces of teeth are often due to smoking or consuming strongly colored foods and drinks. The nicotine in tobacco causes brown and yellow stains on teeth, whether through smoking or chewing. Other culprits include black tea and coffee, wines, beets, chocolate, berries, soy sauce, tomato sauces and pickles. These foods and drinks aren’t as bad for you as tobacco, but they also cause brown teeth stains.
It goes without saying that you should avoid tobacco, and you should also reduce your consumption of dark-colored foods and drinks if staining is a problem. Brushing twice a day and flossing helps remove stains. For a better effect, brush directly after consuming foods and drinks that stain. Best of all is a professional clean by your dentist or dental hygienist to remove unsightly stains on the surfaces of your teeth.
Tooth Decay and Tartar
Brown spots, patches or lines on your teeth could be a sign of poor oral health. Tooth decay and cavities can look like brown stains, and when plaque hardens, it forms a yellow or brown substance called tartar, which lies along the gum line. Your dentist can fill cavities and he can clean away tartar with special tools, but the problem returns if your oral health care doesn’t improve. Ask your dentist how you can improve your daily care routine if decay and tartar are recurring problems.
Intrinsic Teeth Stains
Some teeth stains and mottling or marbling are intrinsic, which means they’re within the tooth enamel and not on the surface. This kind of staining is difficult to fix because your dentist can’t clean it away or remove the enamel. Childhood illness when the adult teeth were forming can cause intrinsic stains, or they may be due to trauma or excess fluoride.
- Childhood illness—Adult teeth develop in the jaw during childhood, and this development is affected by what’s happening in the rest of the child’s body. A high fever can impact the formation of enamel, and if the child is prescribed certain antibiotics, these can also cause staining of the developing adult teeth. The effects of the illness may not be visible for many years until the adult teeth emerge.
- Trauma—If a child suffers trauma to his face, this can leave a mark on the enamel that isn’t visible until the adult tooth grows. Adults can also develop brown spots on their teeth as a result of trauma.
- Fluorosis—Fluoride prevents tooth decay when used in moderation, but excessive fluoride causes brown teeth stains and mottling that never fades.
No amount of cleaning can remove intrinsic teeth stains, but your dentist can fit your teeth with veneers. Thin caps that cover the teeth, veneers are made of resin or porcelain and can last up to 15 years.
Brown teeth stains don’t have to mean constantly hiding your mouth behind your hand when you smile. A visit to the dentist for a professional clean or some dental work should solve your problem. Even if your teeth stains are intrinsic, your dentist can provide a solution.