It’s never a great feeling to look in the mirror and notice unsightly stains on your teeth, especially if you have no idea what might have caused them. There are plenty of reasons your teeth might become discolored, but some causes are easier to pin down than others.
If you think any of the following reasons for brown stains on your teeth might apply to you, consider contacting your local dentist. The sooner you talk to a professional, the sooner you can learn about options to bring back a whiter, brighter smile.
Common reasons for brown stains on teeth
- Tooth decay. Brown stains on teeth are often a sign of tooth decay, which happens if you don’t practice good oral hygiene or go too long without treatment. The basic cycle: when you don’t brush your teeth, the sugars in the foods you eat end up stuck to the surface of your teeth. This creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and spread, destroying your tooth enamel in the process. When your enamel gets eaten away by bacteria, it creates brown spots.
- Tartar buildup. A precursor to tooth decay, tartar is no joke. The sugars stuck to your teeth don’t just become food for bacteria. Left too long, they also become a sticky yellowish substance called plaque. And if you don’t brush and floss the plaque away, it hardens into a substance called tartar, which is often brown. Tartar is much harder to get rid of than plaque—it generally requires a dentist to scrape it off your teeth—so if you want to avoid it, make sure to brush and floss regularly.
- Fluorosis. Fluorosis is caused by excessive intake of fluoride. In some severe cases, it will make brown spots or pits on your teeth. Mild fluorosis tends to make white lines or streaks on the teeth. Luckily, fluorosis is usually just a cosmetic issue. If you catch it early enough and speak to your dentist, the staining can almost always be reversed.
- Celiac disease. According to the Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign, people with Celiac disease often have underdeveloped tooth enamel. White, yellow and brown spots may appear, and the enamel may be translucent. Because the effects are permanent, many patients with Celiac disease talk to their dentists about veneers to cover the condition.
- Food staining. Certain foods such as coffee, tea, and wine can often cause staining on the teeth. Coffee and tea in particular can cause yellowish or brownish staining, because the pigment of the drink is so dark. If you drink a lot of coffee, or eat a lot of other common tooth-staining foods, make sure to brush extra well and consider cutting down your intake—or at least cutting your morning brew with some milk to help reduce out the staining factor.
- Tobacco products. It’s a well-known medical fact that tobacco products are terrible for your teeth and your mouth in general. Smoking is the worst culprit, but chewing tobacco can also lead to brown stains on teeth, as well as far more serious issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer.
- Age. Unfortunately, our teeth tend to become discolored as we grow older. If you’ve noticed your teeth taking on a yellowish, grayish, or brownish color—or developing streaks, spots, etc.—it could be a side effect of aging. Luckily, there are plenty of options to help whiten or restore your teeth to their natural, youthful shine.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are many other reasons why your teeth might become stained or discolored. If you’ve been noticing brown stains on your teeth, contact our office to book an appointment! We’re always happy to help you figure out what’s going on, and how to treat it.