Tooth discolouration refers to the staining or darkening of your teeth. It occurs when the colour of your teeth changes, and you may start to notice a yellowish tint, or, you may see white or dark flecks on your teeth. There are a number of causes, including dental trauma, poor oral hygiene and certain foods, drinks and medications. 

There are two main types of tooth discoloration including:

  • Extrinsic discoloration. This refers to discoloration that affects the outer surface of your teeth, and exposure to certain environmental factors, like some foods, for example, will cause extrinsically discoloured teeth. 
  • Intrinsic discoloration. This refers to discoloration that starts inside your tooth and affects the layer underneath your enamel, which is called dentin. Dental trauma and certain medications can cause intrinsic discoloration. 

Possible Causes

Some causes are avoidable, while others are not. Avoidable tooth discoloration causes include:

  • Dark-coloured foods and beverages. Coffee, tea, dark berries, red wine and soy sauce are examples of foods that can stain your teeth over time. 
  • Smoking and other tobacco use. Tooth discoloration is common among people who smoke compared to people who don’t. 
  • Poor oral hygiene. If you allow plaque to remain on your teeth, stains will develop and if you do not brush and floss every day, you are far more likely to develop discoloured teeth.
  • Excessive fluoride. Fluoride is an effective way to protect your teeth from cavities, but only in appropriate quantities. People who consume high levels of fluoride during childhood may develop fluorosis, which is a condition that results in white spots on your tooth enamel. 

Unavoidable tooth discoloration causes include:

  • Genetics. Natural tooth colour will vary from one person to another, as will brightness and translucency. 
  • Dental trauma. Car accidents, falls and sports-related injuries can cause trauma which may result in tooth discoloration. 
  • Aging. Your tooth enamel wears thinner as you grow older, which will expose more of the underlying dentin, which has a yellowish hue. 
  • Dental treatment. Certain dental materials can make your teeth appear gray. Examples include silver amalgam used in metal fillings and root canal therapy. 
  • Certain diseases. Liver disease, celiac disease, eating disorders and calcium deficiency are examples of health conditions that can cause teeth discoloration. 
  • Some medications. Antihistamines and drugs used for high blood pressure can result in teeth discoloration.
  • Cancer treatments. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause tooth discoloration. 


If you are unhappy with the colour of your teeth, it may be time to visit a dentist near you in Tavistock. They will determine the underlying cause and whether the stains affect the outer or inner layers of your teeth and will apply treatment accordingly. Your dentist may recommend:

1. Teeth whitening

In-office or at-home professional teeth whitening treatments can break up stains and lift them from your teeth. These methods contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide and the dentist will apply the right amount and will monitor the process to ensure your teeth and gums are not damaged if you choose in-office whitening treatment. 

Professional whitening tends to work best on surface stains, although some of these treatments can remove deep dental stains too. 

2. Dental bonding

Deep tooth discoloration may not improve with whitening alone, and your dentist may recommend dental bonding in these situations. A tooth-coloured composite resin will be applied to conceal discoloured teeth, and this is an affordable option you can consider if you have only a few discoloured teeth. 

3. Porcelain veneers

This treatment consists of tooth-coloured ceramic shells that are thin yet strong, and your dentist will permanently bond them to the front surfaces of your teeth. This will help camouflage discoloration and other cosmetic flaws like chips or misshapen teeth. 

Veneers are not reversible and will have to be replaced every five to fifteen years. 

4. Dental crowns

Dental crowns may be recommended if you have decayed teeth in addition to discoloration. This treatment consists of a tooth-shaped cap that fits over your tooth to protect it from further damage. This option will not only help improve the health and function of your teeth, it will also help improve their appearance. 

At-Home Whitening Kits

You can consider at-home whitening kits, which are available to purchase from your local drugstore. Such products include pastes, strips, rinses and do-it-yourself bleaching trays. Some of these products are safe but may not provide you with the same results as professional whitening treatments. They may brighten the colour of your teeth by one or two shades because the ingredients are not as strong as what dentists use. 

It’s also very important to note that if you do not follow the instructions carefully, you may damage your teeth. If you see ingredients like baking soda, activated charcoal or citric acid on the label, it’s best to avoid the product. 


You cannot prevent stains that are the result of trauma, medications or health conditions, but there are steps you can take to reduce everyday surface discoloration. These steps include:

  • Brushing and flossing twice a day. This will help eliminate plaque and bacteria, and stains will not stick to your teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and make sure you brush every tooth. Flossing is equally as important as it will remove food particles and bacteria stuck in between your teeth.
  • Limiting dark foods and drinks. You don’t have to cut your favourite foods out of your diet entirely, but you can consume them in moderation to avoid stains on your teeth. Limit your consumption of tea, dark berries, cola and red wine, and you will notice a difference. 
  • Drinking lots of water. This is important for your oral and overall health. Drink lots of water and rinse your mouth after drinking beverages that can cause tooth discoloration. 
  • Quitting smoking. This too, will make a very big difference and will improve both your oral and overall health. You will feel better overall and will enjoy a brighter and whiter smile. 
  • Visiting a dentist near you in Tavistock. Attending your dental appointments will prevent stains from developing. Your dentist will provide you with a professional cleaning and will use specialty tools and equipment to remove plaque. 

Brighten Your Smile at Tavistock Family Dentistry

Are you interested in a whiter smile? Tavistock Family Dentistry will discuss whitening methods to improve the appearance of your teeth. If you need an emergency dentist or a routine cleaning, we are ready to help and are proud to serve our community here in Tavistock. 

Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!