Understanding Stained Teeth and Tips to a Whiter Smile

Your smile may be one of the first things people notice about you, and a confident smile can make a lasting impression. But, it takes some work to keep your smile shining bright. 

First, it is important to understand what can impact the color of your teeth. While there are many factors to consider when talking about stained teeth, some may come from your diet habbit, lifestyle, medical history, genetics, and previous dental trauma. 

Foods and Beverages

Common foods and beverages that have a tendency to stain the outermost layer of teeth, also known as the enamel, are often more vibrant or darker in color. For example: berries, red wine, dark teas and coffees, dark carbonated drinks, vibrant and dark-colored sauces


Lifestyle factors can also lead to stained teeth, such as tobacco or other drug use. Oral hygiene practices impact the color of the teeth as well. Poor oral hygiene routines lead to heavier plaque accumulation and yellow staining. They may even result in permanent staining (enamel decalcification) that appears as chalky white and softens the tooth leading to higher risks for developing cavities. 


Medications and medical treatments may also lead to staining of the teeth. For example, a medication called tetracycline may lead to permanent tooth staining if taken during the tooth development stage. This stage often ranges from the 4th month of pregnancy into the 5th month following birth. Tetracycline stain affects the tooth layer underneath the enamel, called the dentin, meaning it is permanent and embedded within the teeth. The color stain is often a bluish-grey hue and forms as a prominent horizontal line ranging from severity based on the amount of medication and duration of use.

Exposure to specific minerals, such as iron may also lead to dark staining of the teeth.

Medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation targeting the head and neck region may also affect the color and health of teeth. 


Genetics and other medical factors (e.g., certain disorders) may cause teeth to appear differently in color. Enamel is dense, white in color, and is the outermost layer of the tooth, while dentin rests underneath and has a more yellow hue. Those with weaker enamel related to genetics or certain diseases (e.g., amelogenesis and dentinogenesis imperfecta) tend to have a less bright white smile and are more yellow tinted. On the opposite spectrum, some individuals have very dense enamel and have a less difficult time keeping a bright white smile for that reason. 

Dental trauma 

Dental traumamay also lead to a change in the color of a tooth. Children who have "bumped" a tooth related to an injury may experience a shift in color specific to the affected tooth. If the tooth's nerve or pulp is affected by a dental trauma experience, it may die and lead to graying or darkening because of a lack of blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen. This is known as a non-vital tooth and may need internal bleaching if it is a permanent tooth. 

Grin's Whitening Toothpaste

Fortunately, for most people, teeth whitening can play a significant role in brightening your natural smile. Teeth with existing fillings or prior dental work are less likely to be affected by any whitening products. Thankfully, there are many options for whitening. 

Grin's whitening natural toothpaste helps remove natural causing tooth stains related to the things we eat and drink. It even comes with fluoride or without. Daily removal of plaque using Grin's whitening paste will also help prevent yellow stains from occurring because of its natural ingredients like baking soda and calcium carbonate. Baking soda helps to neutralize harmful plaque acids while polishing the teeth. Calcium carbonate is also helps polish the teeth by removing outer layer staining while protecting the enamel. 

What are the secrets to a bright beautiful smile

Other whitening methods, such as dental office treatments that use a bleaching gel and possible use of a light source, may help brighten tougher stained smiles. It is always best to consult with your dental provider first before proceeding with teeth bleaching products.

Teeth whitening may result in mild tooth sensitivity for some. If you are experiencing sensitivity shortly after using whitening products, talk with your dental provider and look for toothpaste options that target sensitivity. 

About Author

Kristen Cockrell, MS, RDH. Kristen is a Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for preventive pediatric dentistry and oral health education. Kristen earned her master's degree in dental hygiene education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.