September 2, 2014
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What causes stained teeth?

Many people believe that stained teeth are caused exclusively by poor oral hygiene. While that can be a contributing factor, even the best-cared-for teeth can become discolored over time. Various substances, like juice, coffee, tea, dark cola, red wine and even certain antibiotics, can cause teeth stains.

One reason for discoloration and stained teeth is deposition of staining agents below the tooth surface over time. The obvious factors also apply; smokers and people with poor oral hygiene or lifestyle habits are very likely end up with stained teeth.

One-sentence capsule: Many factors, including diet and smoking, contribute to stained teeth.

Tooth staining as a result of smoking

Besides being an instant bad breath cure, quitting smoking can improve the appearance of your teeth. For many people, tooth staining is one of the most common side effects of smoking. You may see some improvement with tooth whitening toothpastes or other whitening products, but the stains will persist if you continue to smoke.

Need another reason? Besides the superficial problems of stained teeth and bad breath, smoking can affect your oral health by significantly increasing your risk for developing oral cancer. Oral cancer includes cancer of the lip or mouth, including the tongue, the insides of the cheeks, the gums, the area under the tongue, the bony area in the top of the mouth and the area in the back of the mouth behind the wisdom teeth.

Data from the National Cancer Institute show that more than 5,000 people in the United States will die from oral cancer in 2008, and more than 22,000 new cases of oral cancer will be identified. The best way to reduce your risk for oral cancer is to stop smoking. Tell your doctor or dentist that you are ready to quit smoking and he or she can help direct you to local support groups and perhaps prescribe nicotine replacement products to help you through the process. In addition, be sure to follow a regular routine of good oral health care, including twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing.

 


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