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Tooth discoloration - causes, prevention and removal with effective home remedies
Teeth can become discolored on the surface, or the enamel darkens over the long term. External coloring is relatively easy to fix, by rinsing or cleaning, the deep tints need other means.
Causes of discolored teeth
There are various causes for both internal and external discoloration of teeth.
1) A “felt” on the tooth enamel is the main cause of external discoloration. This felt can in turn be based on various substances: cigarette smoke, coffee, tea, mate, red wine, berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or currants, spices such as curry or turmeric. If this is accompanied by inadequate oral hygiene, the color of these substances is deposited on the teeth.
Tea, red wine, coffee and chocolate contain tannins. These are found in grapes, tea leaves, cherry plums, quinces, persimmons, pomegranates, medlars, hops and legumes. Moderate tannins are part of a healthy diet, because they work together, are antispeptic, help against viruses and bacteria and are excellent antioxidants. They also promote digestion, as everyone knows who runs to the toilet after morning coffee.
After enjoying food that contains tannins, we should brush our teeth thoroughly because they turn the teeth yellow-brown.
2) Age discolors the tooth enamel. On the one hand, this is due to the permanent coloring of food and beverages, but at the same time the strength of the tooth enamel decreases.
3) Nicotine and tar stain the teeth yellow to blackish. The more and the longer a person smokes, the darker the discoloration.
4) Discolored dental plaque due to bacteria arises naturally and can be easily removed by regular cleaning.
5) Inheritance. Humans have a natural tooth color. For some, the enamel is darker than for others.
6) The thickness of the enamel is hardly known as the cause of a dark coloring of the teeth. This protects the inside of the tooth and its color is whitish. However, the dentin it protects is dirty yellow. If the enamel is now thin, the dark dentin shimmers through it.
The older we get, the thinner the enamel gets. But grinding your teeth, acids or sand can also reduce tooth enamel.
7) Tartar. The so-called tartar refers to minerals that are deposited in the plaque. These minerals appear as dark spots on the tartar.
8) Caries can darken the dentin. This makes the whole tooth look darker.
What to do about tooth discoloration?
1) Be careful with coloring substances. If you reduce smoking, the enjoyment of coffee, red wine and tea, you reduce the resulting discoloration. A complete waiver is not appropriate, because the tannins present in red wine, tea and coffee are good for the organism in moderation. Instead of giving up fruit juice, wine or tea, you can pull oil through your teeth and spit it out after drinking.
2) The most important thing is adequate dental hygiene. You should brush your teeth twice a day, morning and evening with a toothbrush and toothpaste - and do it thoroughly. Thoroughly means paying special attention to the back of the teeth, tooth gaps and unevenness, as deposits form here.
Dental floss and mouthwash fights bacteria in the mouth. Often forgotten, but it is also necessary to clean the tongue, either with a toothbrush and / or with special tongue scrapers, which you can buy in drugstores. The tongue is a paradise for bacteria.
3) Dentists offer professional teeth cleaning. Firstly, they keep the teeth white longer and secondly, they remove any discoloration that has already occurred. The health insurance company pays for a standard tooth cleaning, intensive cleaning costs around 80.00 euros.
4) Use the right toothbrush. Many clean hard bristles according to the motto "sweep with an iron broom" because they think they are more thorough than others. But those who attack their teeth in this way damage the enamel, and the weakened enamel becomes susceptible to discoloration.
Teeth whitening tips and home remedies
The previous methods are primarily used to prevent discoloration. If, however, your teeth have already stained, home remedies will help to whiten them. Avoid all techniques that lead to white teeth but destroy them.
1) Eat raw fruits and vegetables. Apples and pears, carrots, broccoli or celery clean your teeth, and this applies to all fruits and vegetables that are hard and have many fibers at the same time. This does not help against profound discoloration, but it does help against superficial blackouts caused by coloring food and drinks. You should chew the fruits and vegetables thoroughly for this. This also promotes the flow of saliva, which also cleans the teeth.
2) Soda, mixed with water, grinds off the plaque. Although this reduces the discoloration for a short time, it roughens the enamel and thus intensifies the discoloration in the long term, so it is not recommended.
3) Clove oil is a classic for toothache. Since tooth decay also triggers discoloration, it is a good idea to remove discoloration caused by caries. To do this, put clove oil on your toothpaste and brush your teeth with it.
4) Olive oil has the advantage that it is cheap and always available. You put olive oil on a tablespoon and pull it through your teeth. The oil binds coloring substances on the teeth and pulls them out. When you spit out the oil, you also spit out the coloring substances.
This also improves your pH in the mouth and creates a good environment for the tooth enamel. On the one hand, the oil binds the coloring substances, on the other hand it defuses the acids.
4) Orange peel contains D-Limonene in the white inner skin, and these whiten teeth with regular use. To do this, rub the inner skin of a fresh orange over your teeth every day.
5) Sage was a means of our ancestors to brush their teeth. Since the leaves are slightly rough, they scrape off the plaque like broccoli or carrots. Second, sage has antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic substances. You can chew the leaves or wrap them around a toothbrush and use them to clean.
4) Lemon juice bleaches the teeth due to the acid, at the same time the acid attacks the enamel. To whiten the teeth while preserving the enamel, you can rinse your mouth with baking soda after pulling the juice through your teeth.
For all methods of cleaning your teeth with acidic liquids, you should definitely avoid coffee, tea or cigarettes in the hours afterwards. The enamel is initially weakened and can easily discolor again.
When to see a doctor with tooth discoloration?
The home remedies generally help with superficial discoloration. You should go to the doctor if
- the discoloration comes from the inside of the tooth
- are selective
- accompanied by a toothache
- dark edges can be seen on the tooth necks
- The discolored teeth are sensitive to cold, heat, sour or sweet things.
- the discoloration is intense.
Bleaching is the gentle bleaching of teeth under the professional care of a dentist or in their treatment. This goes beyond thorough tooth cleaning by the doctor.
The bleaching is based on carbamide peroxide, i.e. from the carrier carbamide and hydrogen peroxide. The carbamide releases the hydrogen peroxide only slowly so that it can penetrate the teeth in small amounts.
For home bleaching, the dentist takes an impression of their teeth and creates a plastic splint. At home, fill them with a whitening gel prescribed by the dentist and wear them for several hours a day. The treatment takes about two weeks.
The dentist himself uses much more concentrated bleach in his practice. These contain hydrogen peroxide. The advantage compared to home bleaching is that you can see the result immediately. The disadvantage is that the whitened teeth stain again more quickly.
First, the doctor thoroughly cleans your teeth of tartar and discoloration. Then he covers the gums with a film so that the whitening agent does not damage the gums. Now he is wearing the bleaching gel. Depending on the process, he still uses UV light or lasers.
A special case is bleaching if your teeth darken after root canal treatment. Then the dentist brings the bleach directly into the inside of the tooth.
The professional teeth whitening lasts two to three years. But it does not mean a free ticket. The more coffee you drink and the more cigarettes you smoke, the less you brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with mouthwash, the more quickly discoloration will occur.
Before teeth whitening, professional teeth cleaning and an examination by the dentist for untreated caries or brittle fillings take place. If the hydrogen peroxide penetrates here, this leads to severe pain in the nerves.
Who is professional bleaching not for?
Even a dentist cannot prevent the whitening agent from touching nerves. That's why you shouldn't whiten your teeth this way if you have bleeding gums, your tooth bed is inflamed, you have tooth decay, or your enamel is already damaged. The doctor also checks whether fillings are leaking or tooth necks are exposed. If this is the case, he must first remedy this condition.
Children and adolescents, pregnant women and nursing mothers are advised against bleaching with hydrogen peroxide.
Such lightening costs 250 to 700 euros, home bleaching 250 to 400 euros. However, professional tooth cleaning is often sufficient, without gel, UV light or laser, for which you can expect around 80 euros. Also note the natural color of your teeth. If the inside of your teeth is naturally darker, you will not appear in brilliant white even after bleaching.
Expect your teeth to be sensitive to painful stimuli for several days after treatment; her gums may hurt temporarily. Both are also the case after professional tooth cleaning.
Reasons for whitening
Teeth whitening has no medical indications, but aesthetic and therefore psychological ones. Some people develop poor self-esteem because they believe that their discolored teeth make a negative impression on other people and that can be true.
Others may not have limited self-esteem, but think that their jobs will be better when their teeth are white. This is especially true for professions that are based on public impact. This includes sellers as well as politicians.
Still others want to reach potential sex partners better and think that white teeth strengthen their sexual attraction. That cannot be denied either.
However, a warning applies to all measures to improve the impact on other people through whiter teeth. If you have serious psychological problems, you won't solve them by lightening them up. Psychotherapeutic care is the order of the day, and it should be part of the treating doctor's ethos to convey this.
In contrast to cheaper teeth cleaning by a doctor, the more expensive whitening has the advantage of sustainability and the better result. The aesthetic result is much better than if you only have the tartar and the "patina" removed.
Who is paying?
Whitening is not a medical necessity and therefore no statutory health insurance company pays. If you have dental insurance, you will usually be reimbursed for part of the cost. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- http://www.mdz-online.de/info-navigation/zahnpflege/pzr-professionelle-zahnreinigung, medical advice service for dentists (MDZ), (access: 20.08.2019), German Dentists Association e.V.
- Penny Stanway; All-rounder baking soda: + with a balanced acid-base balance for permanent health + without chemicals for natural beauty + the environmentally friendly alternative to cleaning agents, Riva (September 11, 2019)
- Elmar Hellwig, et al .: Introduction to tooth preservation - examination knowledge of cariology, endodontology and periodontology, 6th edition, Deutscher Zahnärzte Verlag, 2013
- Clifton M. Carey: Tooth Whitening: What We Now Know, The journal of evidence-based dental practice, 14 Suppl, 70-76. 2014, PubMed
- In conversation: Wolfgang-M. Boer - dentist and whitening expert, German Society for Aesthetic Dentistry e.V., (accessed: August 18, 2019), DGAEZ