5 Habits That Cause Teeth-staining

Teeth-staining is a very common dental complaint that seems to affect us all. Even though there is a whole market of teeth whitening products and whitening techniques to choose from – preventing teeth staining from even happening in the first place may be a wiser decision.

Everybody’s teeth are not the same, and the natural colour of teeth depends on several factors such as pigmentation and thickness of the enamel of the tooth. Most of these factors are genetically controlled.

Even though you may brush your teeth twice a day and take good care of your teeth, you may have noticed that your teeth are still turning darker or more yellow. This could be because of certain habits you do that indirectly cause teeth staining.

It’s not only important to know what these habits are to prevent teeth staining, but also for after you’ve done teeth whitening, in order to maintain your new pearly white smile for as long as possible.

Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and flossing once a day can help prevent teeth stains from forming, but if you indulge in these habits, then your teeth may be prone to staining anyway.

5 Habits That Cause Teeth-staining

1. Consuming teeth-staining drinks and foods

Consuming certain pigmented drinks and food can cause external stains to form on our teeth. This type of staining can be prevented and removed by proper oral hygiene like brushing twice a day, but if it isn’t removed, over time it can penetrate through the outer layer of the tooth, and become internal staining.

Internal staining can’t be prevented or removed easily with toothbrush, and will require teeth whitening to be removed.

Coffee and tea are notorious teeth-staining beverages. if you’ve just had teeth whitening, then your dentist or dental professional may probably have advised you to stop drinking this beverages or at least to drastically reduce your intake.

If you’re a caffeine addict and require at least a cup or two in order to function in the morning, consider brushing your teeth immediately after drinking your coffee, or at the very least rinsing your mouth with mouthwash or even water.

Here is a quick list of known foods and drinks that cause teeth staining, consider reducing how often you indulge in these in order to prevent teeth staining:

  • Coffee and tea

  • Red wine

  • Cola and coloured soft drinks

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Berries

  • Beetroot

  • Tomato-based red sauces

  • Curry

2. Holding food and drink in your mouth

A very common habit that many people do while eating without actually realising it, is holding food or swishing drinks in their mouth.

This habit prolongs the time that the food or drink can come in contact with the surface of your teeth, increasing the chance of any stains from happening.

Consider using a straw when drinking certain teeth-staining beverages, and don’t swish the drink around in your mouth before swallowing. This is not only important to prevent teeth staining, but also to prevent tooth decay and caries, especially if you’re drinking a sugary or acidic drink.

3. Not drinking enough water

Not only important for keeping hydrated and a hundred other medical reasons, but drinking water can actually also help in preventing teeth staining.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help in washing the surface of your teeth and removing any food or debris that are present on your teeth that would have otherwise caused tooth staining.

Staying hydrated also ensures that your body is producing enough saliva, which is another important factor for keeping your teeth healthy and clean.

In some places of the world, the water is fluoridated allowing your teeth to benefit even more from drinking water sufficiently.

4. Smoking

Along with drinking coffee and tea, smoking is one of the most common causes of teeth staining. Due to the nicotine and tar in tobacco, smoking cigarettes can cause teeth staining in a very surprisingly short period of time, that can be hard to remove with simple tooth brushing.

In addition to causing teeth staining, smoking has many other detrimental and negative effects on your oral health.

Cigarette smoking has been found to be responsible for various dental diseases, including gum disease, bad breath (halitosis), dry mouth, and a reduced sense of taste.

Smoking is also one of the most causes of oral cancer, especially if it’s mixed with alcohol.

5. Not visiting your dentist often enough

Regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist are extremely essential to maintain good oral hygiene, and the professional cleaning done every 6 months can also be responsible for removing any external teeth staining.

The check-up is also important to monitor the overall health of your teeth and gums, and to make sure there are no problems, or if there are, then to treat those problems before they require more complicated treatment.


Written by Dr. Khaled Mahmoud

Khaled Mahmoud completed his dental education and obtained his Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 2017. His interests lie in cosmetic dentistry and non-surgical facial aesthetics. He is active in dental research, contemporary cosmetic materials and techniques, and has been a member of numerous public health outreach programs.