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Tooth stains: what are they and how can you remove them?


Ever looked in the mirror and wondered where the stains are your teeth are from?

Stains are formed on the tooth surface once it erupts. There are three different types of tooth stains: extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related.

Extrinsic stains are stains that occur on the surface of the tooth, the enamel, from everyday activity such as eating, drinking, and smoking. Surface stains can also be caused by mouth-rinses, depending on your pattern of usage and diet. To put it medically, there are two types of extrinsic stains: one, are coloured molecules that are trapped either within the plaque and calculus that sits on top of the teeth, or two, trapped within the protein and mineral aggregates in enamel pores.

On the other hand, intrinsic stains are internal and develop either during tooth formation (e.g. swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste as a child when your adult teeth are forming) or when teeth experience trauma or undergo restorative or endodontic treatments.

Finally, teeth can become stained as you grow older. This is a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Dentin naturally yellows over time and the enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner with age which allows the dentin to show through. Through the combination of foods, drinks, activities such as smoking, as well as chips or other injuries tooth become stains over time.


Popular methods debunked:

Apple cider vinegar: There is no logical reason to recommend apple cider vinegar for removing external stains. Regular use of apple cider vinegar has been shown through research to cause dental erosion. There are also reports of soft tissue injury including to the oesophagus and skin from this product.

Charcoal toothpaste: Click here to read our in depth article on charcoal toothpaste.

Oil Pulling: A recent systematic review of oil pulling interventions included 26 eligible studies, of which five randomized controlled trials were selected. The included studies varied in reporting quality, and lasted between 10 and 45 days. None of the studies measured the effects on tooth staining. Three of five studies reported no significant difference in plaque cores between oil pulling and a placebo, while two showed similar effects for oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash in terms of gingivitis and plaque. What this means is that there have been no professional studies that have shown that oil pulling causes external staining, or worsens or reduces existing external stains on teeth as the quality of existing clinical trials are rather low.


How can I remove external stains?

The only way to remove all external stains is through a clean at your dentist. At Drummoyne Dental Practice we recommend six monthly check-up and cleans. During the clean our dentists use tooth such as rubber cups and abrasive toothpaste, ultrasonic and hand scalers, abrasive strips, and abrasive particles in air-water streams to clean away the stains that have formed in the last six months since we’ve seen you. As well as removing stains we remove calculus build up that can cause gum disease, as well as check to see if there are any dental problems that need to be addressed. Using these dental tools is the only way to effectively remove all external stains from the mouth at a single point in time.


What can I do at home?

Brushing regularly, at least twice a day, with toothpaste will help reduce the staining that you build up over time. When eating staining foods and drinks such as blueberries or coffee, it is recommended that you rinse with water after as to not leave them on the tooth surface until the next time you brush.


What can we do at Drummoyne Dental Practice?

Here at Drummoyne Dental Practice we have two options for whitening your teeth. The first option is the in chair Zoom whitening. This takes around an hour for existing patients, and an extra 15 minutes for new patients. It works faster and stronger than the second option, but may cause your teeth sensitivity. Read about it here.

The second option is the take home whitening kit. The take home whitening kit takes two appointments to issue. At the first appointment, our dentists will take an impression in order to create customized trays for your teeth. At the second appointment, the dentist will issue your trays (upper and bottom) and whitening gel. There are two options for whitening gel, day or night. The pros of the kit are you can reuse the trays every time you wish to brighten your teeth, you simple need to repurchase the gel, and it is also cheaper. Read an indepth article about it here.