How does teeth discolouration work?
Your teeth can become discoloured by stains on the surface or by changes inside the tooth. There are three main types of tooth discolouration: extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related.
Extrinsic discolouration occurs when the outer layer of the tooth, or the enamel, is stained. Coffee, wine, soda or other drinks or foods can stain teeth. Smoking also causes extrinsic stains.
Intrinsic discolouration is when the inner structure of the tooth, or the dentin, darkens or gets a yellow tint. You can get this type of discolouration for different reasons, but it’s not really food-related.
Age-related discolouration is, well, just as it sounds. The enamel covering the teeth becomes thinner as you get older, which allows the dentin to show through.
Here’s a list of things that extrinsically stain your teeth:
1. Acidic and citrus food
Acidic and citrus foods break down the enamel to expose the dentin – yellow-ish tissue beneath the enamel that is made up of calcium and phosphate crystals.
According to Colgate, the darker the tea, the more likely it will stain your teeth. Herbal and white teas can still wear away the enamel of and cause stains, too.
To all coffee-lovers out there, I’m sorry. Coffee contains tannins that results in staining and discolouration. It’s also acidic, altering the pH balance of the mouth. What does this mean? Other acidic foods will damage your teeth even more quickly.
Sweets can change your tongue’s colour, which means they can also stain your teeth. But unless you eat them frequently, you’ll probably be okay.
5. Curry and tomato sauce
They may be tasty, but curry and tomato sauce cause teeth stains. Not only are curries and tomato sauce highly saturated, colour-wise, but they’re also acidic. Try using light-coloured or creamy sauces. Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth soon after eating.
6. Sports and energy drinks
Sports or energy drinks can erode enamel as well, leaving your teeth more vulnerable for stains. The citric acid in the drinks not only serve as preservatives enhancing flavor and shelf life, it’s also eroding your enamel.
The dark compounds in dark-coloured sodas cause surface staining on your teeth. Then, your tooth enamel absorbs these compounds, causing brown or yellow discoloration. Once again, acids and dyes are the culprits.
It’s true. The acid and tannins contained within red wine, however, are the main contributors to staining. Wine is an acidic beverage – just like coffee, tea and soda – so it promotes enamel erosion. Do you think white wine is a safer bet than red wine? Don’t be fooled by the lighter colour. The acidity level is still there.
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