What are stained teeth?

Stained teeth can be the result of stains that are either extrinsic or intrinsic:

  • Intrinsic stains occur from within the tooth structure itself and are not removable.
  • Extrinsic stains occur on the surface of the tooth and can be reduced by improving oral hygiene and limiting contact with staining agents, which can be found in substances such as tobacco, red wine and coffee.



  • Changes to colour, including: gray teeth, black teeth, brown teeth, and even green teeth.
  • Extrinsic stains are generally dark discolourations on the enamel (the outer layer) of the tooth.
  • Intrinsic stains are present when the inner structure of the tooth darkens or gets a yellow tint.


There are many reasons why stains may appear on the teeth. There are environmental factors (such as fluorosis, a condition that can be caused by excessive consumption of the fluorine compounds often found in tap water), medical factors, such as being exposed to antibiotic therapy during tooth development, which can result in tetracycline staining, and genetic factors, which influence the growth and color of teeth.



Causes and prevention

Many people consider stains unsightly, as they are often associated with poor oral health and hygiene. As a result teeth whitening treatments, which can reduce the appearance of extrinsic stains, continue to grow globally in popularity. Intrinsic discolouration, however, can be more difficult to manage. These stains usually can’t be removed but they can be covered or concealed with composite bonding material or veneers.


  • Reduce intake of the foods and drinks that are likely to stain your teeth, such as coffee, red wine, and tomato sauces. Quit tobacco use.
  • Improve oral hygiene, brushing techniques, and flossing frequency.
  • Attend regular dental checkups and cleaning appointments with a dental hygienist.
  • If the stain is intrinsic, you will need dental advice and management.
  • Intrinsic discoloration from antibiotics should not occur today as doctor are unlikely to prescribe such antibiotics to children under the age of 8.

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