When our teeth are not the normal whitish or yellowish whitish color, they are said to be discolored.
Tooth discoloration could be due to various causes – trauma, illness, food and drinks we consume, smoking, hereditary causes, certain medications, poor oral hygiene and more.
Brown spots on the teeth occur when teeth get stained and they can be extremely embarrassing. Apart from aesthetic reasons, it is important to get rid of brown spots and other stains for they could impact your health in many other ways.
The main cause of brown spots is smoking. Nicotine found in cigarettes, pipes, cigars and other tobacco products create brown spots on teeth.
Other causes could be medicines like tetracycline and consuming dark foods and beverages. poor dental hygiene – especially in children, an injury that causes trauma to teeth or gum tissues and certain medical conditions can also result in brown spots.
Professional Remedies for Brown Spots on Teeth
Brown stains can be removed using professional and at-home teeth whitening systems.
Various treatment solutions and whitening options at a dental hygienist can work on brown spots. Brown spots are largely extrinsic stains and in – office procedures would take the form of polishing or teeth whitening treatments.
The advantages of in office treatments being that results are visible soon after. Although the whole procedure is completed in a few appointments, it could get costly.
1. Dental Prophylaxis
Extrinsic stains are commonly cleaned through a dental prophylaxis treatment.
Prophylaxis has a dual action that cleans surface stains from teeth and protects teeth and gums from further damage or disease.
Scaling – If there is minimal inflammation, the dental hygienist will start will scaling the teeth with an ultrasonic scaler to remove hardened plaque.
After this, a manual scalar is used to remove debris from in between the teeth.
Polishing – A prophy paste is then applied to thoroughly polish off superficial stains.
This technique is effective in treating stains and spots caused by tobacco, tea, coffee and other colored food.
2. Power Bleaching
Power bleaching uses a mix of hydrogen peroxide and bleaching gels to knock of stains and brighten teeth.
Bleaches can cause varying degrees of irritation, which is why the gums and mouth are separated using a protective ‘dental – dam’.
The technique then uses light to expedite teeth whitening. In this method, a whitening gel is applied on the teeth and a laser or LED light is passed over it. This special light activates the whitening gel and quickly removes brown spots. A 30-60 minute session can offer very dramatic results, lightening teeth by 3-4 shades.
It can last for one or more years, depending on follow up care and regular maintenance.
3. Porcelain veneers and composite bonding
For darker or persistent extrinsic stains, alternative options are recommended. Porcelain veneers and composite bonding are options that cover the teeth and mask cosmetic flaws.
Bonding is a good method to use when you have brown spots. This method uses a composite resin on existing teeth and can cover stains and give you a natural smile. These require frequent cleaning – at least 4 times a year – since they can stain easily.
Porcelain veneers are a preference to cover up stains and fix gaps in teeth. They’re a long-term solution and could be expensive. They consist of layers of many thin porcelain shells adhered to underlying tooth structure.
Veneers are made based on personal preferences and characteristics, to ensure a natural result. A minimal level of the tooth enamel is scraped off and the whole procedure might require a couple of sessions.
Porcelain veneers are newer techniques to hide stains. This is similar to bonding but uses porcelain laminated veneers on teeth that is more durable and does not stain very easily. It is more expensive when compared to bonding.
This could last anywhere from 3 – 10 years. Composite veneers hide spots and stains in teeth with plastic resin, bound to fillers such as quartz and glass then fixed to the enamel.
They’re made with the help of a shade chart that ranges in colors and translucencies.
The procedure is reversible, as underlying tooth structure remains untouched.
Some Home Remedies for Brown Spots
Opting for professional treatment or taking matters in your own hands depends on the results desired, time at hand and cost. Natural home remedies with a myriad of benefits are milder, inexpensive but could take longer.
There are many OTC kits available and can be bought either from the dentist, local stores or online but a reputable brand is advisable.
An OTC treatment is best suited in situations with average staining and will work better in the hands of people accustomed to at – home teeth whitening.
These treatments come with side effects and have to be used in moderation.
1. Tray based teeth whitening
This technique can be a follow up to an in office procedure to achieve required results. It can also be used as a stand-alone treatment.
Tray-based techniques work on a single tooth as well a set of teeth. Custom-made trays filled with a whitening gel are fit on to teeth for a certain amount of time. Trays got from a dentist would have been customized to characteristics of a particular set of teeth as opposed to ones from a store.
However, some stores offer custom made trays making results achieved at a dentist imitable.
Teeth whitening trays normally call for a daily use than other whitening options. Some have to be used for hours at a stretch, limiting food and liquid intake during that time.
2. Teeth whitening strips
Teeth whitening strips are a tray-free, convenient method, effective in displaying results. Most strips recommend a strip for 30 minutes a day for around 10 – 20 days.
It can also be done twice a day to speed up results.
These strips are transparent, fine and flexible layers of plastic that have been treated on one side with hydrogen peroxide. This enables effective whitening and reduces the chances of side effects.
Higher the strength of hydrogen peroxide and the longer the strip is worn the more effective in treating brown spots.
Recurrent monthly touch –ups are suggested as most effective. It could cause some amount of sensitivity for some people, which is bearable.
3. Teeth Whitening Pens
Whitening pens or brushes contain hydrogen peroxide smeared on to the surface of teeth. Once painted on to teeth the solution is left on for 20 – 30 minutes.
After which it binds into a film that lasts for a certain amount of time.
This technique is good to treat individual teeth that have brown spots. It can be painted on as required to avoid the gums.
These pens seem to be expensive and are less effective as compared to whitening trays and strips.
4. Whitening toothpaste
Whitening toothpaste can be effective in eliminating brown spots caused by caffeine and cigarettes. They contain chemicals and abrasives that can disperse these stains.
It can take around a month to make teeth appear whiter, if used twice a day. Toothpastes that contain ‘blue covarine’ can have a speedier whitening effect.
Whitening toothpaste can’t change the natural color of teeth. It should be used with caution as it can weaken enamel.
A reputable brand will be more effective in showing results. These at – home OTC whitening treatments work depending on the extent of brown spots and stains. They should not exceed usage beyond the recommended limit, which could lead to side effects.
How to Avoid Brown Spots on Teeth
Merging certain home care and preventive routes, can halt the formation of brown spots to arrive at a goal of healthy sparkly teeth.
Habits to kick
Enamel is porous so anything that colors the tongue will cause it to soak stain. However, exposed surfaces will stain quicker than enamel.
Coffee contains compounds when mixed with saliva in the mouth can cause spots while tannins in tea can stain teeth. Both being highly acidic can erode enamel.
Pigmented fruits and their juices like berries, pomegranates etc. can leave stains on teeth if not followed up by a water rinse. Red wine residue can also be a staining culprit. Anything acidic should be consumed with caution, as the acid content will weaken enamel making it more prone to staining.
Certain precautions should be followed while consuming these foods and drinks that have a potential to stain.
- They must be consumed in moderation and followed by brushing (after 5 minutes) or a water rinse.
- Take small bites or sips to avoid a chewing on a large portion, which will make it stay longer in the mouth to definitely stain.
- Use a straw while drinking (if not hot) juices or acidic beverages that can damage and stain.
Nicotine and tar in cigarettes can cause brown pits and spots. Smoking must be avoided as far as possible.
Habits to keep
- Brush and floss regularly and twice a day if possible. Rinse after every meal to wash off debris and particles in the mouth. However brushing immediately after foods that are acidic or cause stains could damage enamel.
- Choose teas and coffees that contain higher levels of polyphenols. Mix more milk to tea and coffee to reduce the acid content, prevent staining and damage.
- Studies have shown that chewing on crunchy fruits and vegetables forms more saliva, which in turn can protect the enamel from discoloration and damage.
- Consume at least a liter of water in a day. Water also produces more saliva and in turn helps with mineralizing teeth, making them strong and keeping stains away.
- Oils such as coconut, sesame and olive have many benefits for teeth, forming a protective film over enamel.
- Foods that contain calcium and phosphate strengthen and build enamel.
- Some fruits and vegetables have gentle abrasive properties that scrub surface stains from enamel.
Natural ingredients to prevent discoloration
Use natural cleansing ingredients occasionally to clean stains in the initial stages and prevent them from worsening.
Baking soda and water mixed into a paste can act as an abrasive on stains. Lemon juice diluted in water and rubbed on to teeth has bleaching benefits to fade brown spots.
A hydrogen peroxide rinse can prove to be an effective whitening solution.
Activated charcoal has the ability to soak in stains caused by tannins.
Brown spots and stains are caused by a range of interacting forces of habit and hygiene. Professional help that is timely to prevent staining and on time to rectify the damage done can prove effective. However, regular and responsible at home care can be cost effective and deliver results.