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Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. It makes teeth “feel fuzzy” to the tongue and is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed.Your teeth can become discolored by stains on the surface or by changes in the tooth material.


Plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches), such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth.

Dentists divide discoloration into three main categories:

  • Extrinsic discoloration— This occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained by coffee, wine, cola or other drinks or foods. Smoking also causes extrinsic stains. Chips or other injuries to a tooth can also cause discoloration.
  • Intrinsic discoloration— This is when the inner structure of the tooth (the dentin) darkens or gets a yellow tint. Causes include excessive exposure to fluoride during early childhood, the maternal use of tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy and the use of tetracycline antibiotics in children 8 years old or younger.
  • Age-related discoloration— This is a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. In addition to stains caused by foods or smoking, the dentin naturally yellows over time. The enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner with age, which allows the dentin to show through. Chips or other injuries to a tooth can also cause discoloration, especially when the pulp has been damaged.

These external stains are a result of the following factors:

  1. Diet: Excessive intake of beverages such as tea, coffee is one of the major causes of tooth staining. Incase you consume about 2–3 cups of tea or coffee each day, it will not cause any harm to your teeth. However, anything more than this will tend to result in the staining of the teeth.
  2. Improper brushing: Due to improper and irregular brushing, the surface of the teeth do not get cleaned properly. This leads to the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity. Eventually, it leads to the formation of a biofilm (mass of bacteria) that sticks to the tooth surface. As this film hardens it forms tarter. Tarter is often brown or light yellow in color.
  3. Smoking and chewing tobacco: Tobacco is another important factor for causing brown stains on your teeth and gums. If not attended at the right time, these may increase and become permanent.
  4. Primary caries: At times, teeth that are prone to caries also appear to be stained.

Any kind of stain can be removed by scaling (cleaning of teeth) by a dentist.


Symptoms include stains on the enamel or a yellow tint in the dentin.


No special tests are needed. A dentist can diagnose tooth discoloration by looking at the teeth.


Brushing your teeth after every meal will help to prevent some stains. Dentists recommend that you rinse your mouth with water after having wine, coffee or other drinks or foods that can stain your teeth. Regular cleanings by a dental hygienist also will help to prevent surface stains.

Intrinsic stains that are caused by damage to a nerve or blood vessel in the inner part (the pulp) of a tooth sometimes can be prevented by having root canal treatment, which removes organic material before it has a chance to decay and darken. However, teeth that undergo root canal treatment may darken anyway. To prevent intrinsic stains in children, avoid water that contains a high fluoride concentration. You can check the concentration of fluoride in your drinking water supply by calling the public health department. Then consult your dentist.

Discoloration often can be removed by applying a bleaching agent to the enamel of the teeth. With a technique called “power bleaching,” the dentist applies a light-activated bleaching gel that causes the teeth to get significantly whiter in about 30 to 45 minutes. Several follow-up treatments may be needed.

It’s also possible to remove discoloration with an at-home bleaching gel and a mouth guard given to you by your dentist. The bleaching gels designed for use at home aren’t as strong as those applied by your dentist, so the process takes longer — usually two to four weeks. Whitening toothpastes may remove minor stains, but they aren’t very effective in most cases.

If you’ve had a root canal and the tooth has darkened, your dentist may apply a bleaching material to the inside of the tooth.

When a tooth has been chipped or badly damaged or when stains don’t respond to bleaching, your dentist may recommend covering the discolored areas. This can be done with a composite bonding material that’s color-matched to the surrounding tooth. Another option is to get veneers, which are thin shells of ceramic that cover the outer surfaces of the teeth

cially when the pulp has been damaged.

The brown stains seen in between the teeth in the gums are external stains that are due to substances deposited on the outer surface of teeth, behind the teeth, on the chewing surface and along the gumline.

Treatments vary for certain types of tooth stains

  • Single dark tooth. If you have one tooth that is darker than the rest it is either the result of trauma to the tooth or the effect of a medication. …
  • White spots on teeth. …
  • Whitening Dental
  • Tetracycline Stains. …
  • Tobacco Stains. …
  • Dental

You can take note of following points in your daily oral routine:

  • At home, make it a point to brush your teeth twice a day.
  • To achieve better results, make sure you choose the right brush and clean your teeth the right way.
  • Use inter-dental aids such as inter-dental brushes and floss at home to clean the surfaces between the teeth.

Visit a dentist once every six months to keep a track of dental health and any other dental issues

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