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Lesser-Known Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Lesser-Known Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Teeth whitening has become big business. According to Healthline, in 2015 alone, Americans spent more than $11 billion on in-office and at-home teeth whitening treatments and products. Some of that undoubtedly comes from the large number of substances that can cause tooth discoloration.

Some of these substances are well known: tea, coffee, dark colas, red wine, dark berries, and, of course, any form of tobacco. But what isn’t on that list that’s contributing to your dingy-looking teeth?

At Riverdale Dental Arts, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff see a lot of patients with discolored teeth at their office in the Bronx, New York. That’s why they’re proud to offer the Philips Zoom® Teeth Whitening System, which takes your smile from drab to dazzling. But knowing what leads to discoloration can make you proactive with your oral health, so the team compiled this list of lesser-known causes for your consideration.

THAT causes tooth discoloration?

You’ve resolved to keep your teeth clean and healthy, and you’ve cut back on the obvious stainers like coffee and soy sauce. But what you don’t know about discoloration can end up thwarting your plans. Here are some of the lesser-known, but still powerful, causes of tooth discoloration.

Fruits and vegetables

You know dark berries and berry juices are definite no-nos, but did you also know that apples and potatoes can stain your teeth, too? Your best bet is to at least rinse your mouth out after eating anything, or brush, if you can.

Medical conditions and treatments

Certain diseases, including but not limited to metabolic diseases, liver disease, calcium deficiency, rickets, eating disorders, and celiac disease, can all alter the color of your teeth. Head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can also cause discoloration in cancer patients. In addition, infections in pregnant women can lead to fetal tooth discoloration by affecting enamel development. Addressing the underlying cause should help reduce the amount of discoloration or prevent it from getting worse.


Two antibiotics — tetracycline and doxycycline — are known to discolor teeth in children under eight years old whose teeth are still developing. In adults, mouth rinses that contain chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can stain teeth, as can antihistamines like Benadryl, antipsychotics, and some drugs for high blood pressure. Ask your doctor if there’s an alternative medication that doesn’t have tooth discoloration as a side effect.

Dental materials

You’d think materials used in the mouth wouldn’t cause any discoloration problems, but some materials, such as amalgam restorations and those that contain silver sulfide, can give teeth a gray-black color. To counter this, most dentists use these products only on back teeth, which can’t be seen when you smile.

Environmental factors

Fluoride, in small quantities, is important for tooth mineralization. But too much fluoride, either from high fluoride levels in drinking water or from excessive use of rinses, toothpaste, or oral fluoride supplements can discolor your teeth.

Fortunately, if your teeth do become discolored, Dr. Kupferman can do something about it. You can choose in-office teeth whitening or an at-home kit to bleach out the stains and restore your natural tooth color — or go whiter.

To learn more about tooth discoloration and tooth whitening, or to schedule an appointment, call Riverdale Dental Arts or book online with us today.

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