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What Causes Tooth Discoloration and What You Can Do About It

The smile dilemma: You want to share joy, not your eating habits. Unfortunately, tooth stains are common and bothersome side effects of your food choices, lifestyle, and aging.

The dental professionals at Chester Family Dentistry in Warren, Ohio, know your frustrations. That’s why our team of dentists offers professional teeth whitening procedures to help you regain your confidence and your pearly whites.

Causes of discoloration to your teeth

Foods you eat

Foods and drinks that stain your teeth are high in tannins, acid, and chromogens, which are strong pigments that bind to your enamel. Examples include coffee, tea, soda, wine, and berries. If it can stain your clothes, it can stain your teeth.

Additionally, any candies or beverages, like sports drinks, that have a strong color from food dyes can contribute to tooth stains. Acidic drinks like lemonade and white wine don’t leave stains, but the acid makes your teeth more susceptible to discoloration.


The tar and nicotine in tobacco leave stains on your teeth. If you smoke, you may find that your teeth have dark stains from the tar or significant yellowing from the nicotine, which, though colorless, turns yellow when it oxidizes.

If you don’t take good care of your teeth, your enamel wears down and it becomes easier for stains to develop. The polish from dental cleanings can help prevent some staining, so if you’re avoiding your checkups, you’re more at risk for tooth discoloration.

Injuries to teeth and certain medications also make teeth more susceptible to stains. Trauma to a tooth can cause discoloration because your tooth creates an additional layer of yellow-colored dentin in response to an injury. Tetracycline antibiotics can cause staining in a young child’s teeth, and antihistamines, antipsychotics, and blood pressure medications can also lead to discoloration.

Age and genes

As you age, your tooth enamel becomes thinner while the dentin beneath the enamel becomes darker. This allows more of the yellow dentin to show through. And some people are just born with thinner or rougher enamel, which can make teeth look less white and shiny.

Professional teeth whitening treatment

At Chester Family Dentistry, we provide two options for professional whitening treatments. You can choose to have your teeth whitened through an in-office whitening procedure, or we can make customized take-home trays so you can use professional whitening products to treat your teeth at home. You may even want a combination of both options.


We always do a full dental examination before any professional whitening treatment. This is so we know if there are any problems, such as cavities or cracks, we should fix before you come in for whitening. We also clean your teeth right before your treatment to remove lingering stains.  


At your in-office whitening appointment, we apply a gel to your teeth. This gel is stronger and more effective than over-the-counter whitening treatments, and we use a substance to protect your gums from irritation. A specialized light activates the gel. The procedure lasts about an hour, and can help your teeth become 3-5 shades whiter with one treatment.

To create trays you can use to whiten your teeth at home, we take an impression of your teeth so your custom tray fits your teeth perfectly. We provide you with prescription strength whitening gel to use on your teeth daily for a couple of weeks.


You can go back to your day as normal after a professional teeth whitening treatment, although you may experience tooth sensitivity for a few days. You should see your results immediately, and they can last up to a year, with proper dental care.

Preventing future stains

As you go back to your regular eating, drinking, and lifestyle habits, your teeth slowly develop stains again. However, there are some preventative measures you can take to help your professional whitening treatment last as long as possible:

If you’re ready to see whiter, brighter teeth with a professional whitening treatment, call or schedule an online appointment with Chester Family Dentistry today.

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