6 Causes of Teeth Stains and How to Remove Them
A woman leaning against a tree and looking off to the left

You smile for your newest Instagram photo, but no matter the angle or the lighting, you can’t seem to hide the stains on your pearly whites. #photofail

You’re not alone in this feeling. Many individuals hate smiling because they feel their pearly whites don’t look white enough. The good news? Once you realize what’s causing your staining, you can do something about it using today’s top teeth stain removal techniques.

Let’s explore six common causes of teeth staining and how to remove them.

1. Specific Foods May Require Teeth Stain Removal

Certain drinks and foods can stain your teeth’s surfaces (called extrinsic staining) over time due to having strong pigments. The staining occurs when the foods or beverages move into your tooth structure’s outer layers. Examples of today’s biggest teeth-staining culprits include:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Red sauces

Minimizing these popular menu items or brushing your teeth right after consuming them may aid in the removal of the teeth stains they cause.

2. Subpar Oral Hygiene

How often do you brush and floss? If you’re not brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once daily, this could be one of the causes of your teeth staining. Poor dental hygiene allows food particles and plaque (the sticky bacteria-filled coating that forms on your teeth after you eat) to stay on your teeth and stain your tooth surfaces.

Brushing your teeth with a high-quality enzymatic toothpaste may help with teeth stain removal. The enzymes in this type of toothpaste, which range from bromelain to papain, break down teeth stains. A reliable enzymatic toothpaste also contains sodium lauryl sulfate (a foaming compound) and hydrogen peroxide — ingredients that may help remove teeth discoloration. Look for a toothpaste that contains no preservatives, flavoring agents, dyes, and detergents, particularly if your gums are sensitive.

3. Tobacco Use

The top causes of teeth staining also include tobacco usage. Chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes are linked to various health problems and can cause tooth discoloration. Avoid tobacco products to stay healthy and keep your pearly whites as white as possible.

4. Disease or Trauma

Disease and trauma are two other common causes of teeth staining. Disease, illness, or trauma during childhood may affect how your enamel — your tooth’s outer layer — develops, leading to tooth discoloration. An adult whose tooth is damaged might also experience discoloration due to the trauma they’ve suffered.

A woman covering her mouth with both hands

5. Certain Medical Treatments

Has your doctor prescribed antipsychotic medications or high blood pressure medication for you? These types of medicines may cause your teeth to become discolored. The same is true for chemotherapy for cancer patients and even antihistamines for seasonal allergy sufferers. Stopping these medications may prevent further tooth staining.

If you took tetracycline antibiotics when you were a child, note that this antibiotic has also been linked to permanent tooth surface discoloration.

6. Age

One of the biggest causes of teeth staining is age. As you get older, your teeth become more brittle. This allows yellowing and staining to occur. As mentioned earlier, watching what you eat and brushing regularly may help you keep unsightly tooth stains at bay.

Causes of Various Stain Colors

Did you know that various tooth stain colors can have unique causes? Let’s explore some of the most common tooth stain colors and the factors that contribute to them.


Yellow teeth may stem from chewing tobacco, subpar oral hygiene, and severe dry mouth. Other causes of yellow stains include some medications, certain beverages (e.g., red wine), and a high-sugar diet.


A white stain may indicate you have a cavity. That’s because cavities can cause white spots on teeth, and these spots may darken as the cavities become more advanced. White spots might also form on your teeth if your fluoride intake is too high.


Brown discoloration and spots may have several causes. These include tobacco use and the buildup of tartar (the hardened form of plaque). Other brown stain causes include untreated cavities, certain fruits (pomegranates and blackberries), and some beverages (cola and tea).


Your teeth may develop a purple undertone if you consume red wine regularly. Foods and beverages like blueberries and coffee may also cause purple staining.


Black tooth staining may stem from a liquid iron supplement or an advanced cavity. Crowns and fillings containing silver sulfide might also cause black spots or stains.

Teeth Stain Removal Tips

Aside from brushing and flossing regularly, teeth whitening is one of the best ways to remove stains. This solution falls into three categories: in-office whitening, at-home whitening, and over-the-counter (OTC) whitening.

A teeth stain removal dentist can reduce or eliminate stains on your teeth using a product with a higher hydrogen peroxide concentration than you’ll find in at-home whitening products. In-office whitening produces quicker and longer-lasting results compared with the other two methods.

A man getting his teeth whitened by a dental hygienist

If you don’t have time to visit the dentist, consider an at-home treatment. Your dentist may create custom trays you can place on your teeth at your convenience. Add gel to your trays, and wear them for one hour daily for several weeks to achieve your desired results.

OTC products, like whitening strips and toothpastes, are also an effective option for teeth stain removal. However, they are not as effective on stains inside the teeth (intrinsic stains), such as those stemming from tetracycline use or trauma.

Speak with your dentist about your teeth whitening options before trying a whitening product. Some products may cause gum irritation or tooth sensitivity. Your dentist can help you choose what’s safest for you based on your needs.

Visit the dentist for six-month cleanings and checkups. A professional cleaning may help reduce spots and stains on your teeth. Your dentist might also catch stain-causing dental problems, like cavities, early on and treat them before they become more complex.

Consult Our Dentist for Teeth Stain Removal at Alondra Dental Care

At Alondra Dental Care, we’re excited to offer a full range of dental treatments and services, such as dental implants, teeth whitening for stain removal, and more. Give us a call to set up a dental cleaning or whitening appointment, and let’s take your smile to the next level today!

About Dr. Abad

Dr. Abad founded Alondra Dental Care with the goal of providing superior dental care through attentive service and state-of-the-art technology. For over 20 years, Dr. Abad has been putting patients first at every step of their dental treatment. When she's not in the office, Dr. Abad can be found in her garden or out giving back to the community. As a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, American Association of Clear Aligners, and Harbor Dental Society, Dr. Abad enjoys educating others on the importance of quality dental health and regular dental exams.