If you’ve ever seen or dealt with teeth stains, you probably didn’t find them an attractive addition to your smile. Some teeth stains are temporary, like when your teeth change color after sipping red wine. Others are longer-lasting and can make us feel self-conscious about our smile. While some staining is bound to happen from consuming different foods or beverages, severe staining could indicate a more serious internal problem. Whether you’re currently experiencing teeth stains and don’t want to make them worse or want to prevent them from forming, here are 5 common causes of teeth stains.

5 Common Causes of Teeth Stains

Teeth stains come in two forms: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains appear when your teeth come into contact with a staining substance, like red wine, coffee, or even certain fruits and vegetables. Intrinsic stains, on the other hand, result from something inside your teeth or body that causes the teeth to become discolored. Some of these conditions could point to more serious health issues.

Food and Drink

The most common causes of teeth stains are from the food and beverages we consume day-to-day. Coffee, tea, sodas, red wine, some fruits — particularly berries — and even some vegetables, can all cause teeth stains to appear. Most are temporary, as once the extrinsic causes are removed and the teeth are brushed, the stains go away on their own. 

If you habitually drink a lot of strong coffee and don’t brush your teeth after you’ve finished, you might notice a little browning or yellowing discoloration of your teeth. While it doesn’t indicate any significant health risk, you should be aware that the acids in coffee and wine, for example, do cause some wear to the protective enamel covering your teeth, which could cause them to stain more easily as you get older.


Both smoking and chewing tobacco can stain teeth. Teeth stains from tobacco can appear yellow, brown, or even brownish-gray. Tobacco is also an irritant to gums, and can cause periodontal disease, which is painful and can cause teeth to decay or even fall out.


As we get older, the outer layer of our teeth’s enamel will gradually wear away, and the natural color of the dentin can show through, appearing more yellow or brown. Some people naturally have thicker enamel layers than others, which is why not everyone’s teeth will become discolored at the same rate. Eating acidic foods or using tobacco products can cause the enamel to wear away prematurely, and teeth to discolor more quickly.

Disease or Treatment

Intrinsic or internal causes of teeth stains affect the enamel or dentin of teeth and can cause them to appear discolored. Some health conditions, like acid reflux, can wear away at teeth enamel and lead to staining. Even some treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy can cause teeth stains. Other common causes of teeth stains occur in children while their teeth are still developing. Some antibiotics and antihistamines have been known to have this effect on growing teeth.

Environmental Causes

Some factors in your environment could be responsible for teeth stains. White spots on your teeth, for example, may be a result of overexposure to fluoride, either through fluoride toothpastes, fluoride treatments, fluoride-treated water, or a combination of all three. If your teeth sustained any type of trauma or impact, particularly when you were young and your teeth were still developing, your teeth’s enamel-growing abilities could be altered and cause discoloration.

Prevention and Treatment of Teeth Stains

Sometimes teeth stains can be prevented by making simple changes to your lifestyle. Try cutting back on your coffee consumption, or limit your use of cigarettes and tobacco. Regular brushing, flossing, and mouthwash can keep your teeth clean so food particles can’t sit and leave stains on your teeth. As always, be sure to visit your dentist for cleaning every 6 months to remove plaque buildup and have your dental and gum health checked.

If regular brushing doesn’t remove stains, or your teeth are prone to staining, talk to your dentist about potential treatments. At-home whitening agents or in-office whitening procedures can help remove stubborn teeth stains. If that isn’t effective, your dentist may recommend teeth bonding or veneers. For teeth bonding, your dentist will fuse a small amount of tooth-colored material over a stain to cover it, then blend it to match your natural tooth. Veneers can help cover up larger stains and discoloration. They are used to cover an entire tooth to change its appearance.

If the color of your teeth changes without cause, or if you have teeth stains you aren’t able to remove on your own, make an appointment to see your dentist. Your dentist can help you determine the cause of your teeth stains so you can gain confidence in your smile again.

Worried that your teeth are turning brown? Call Creason, Weber & Mountford today. We’re proud to offer ZOOM! tooth whitening, one of the best, most effective and long-lasting tooth whitening services on the market. We’d be happy to get you on our schedule today.