Ask An Expert: Do Genetics Make Your Teeth More Prone To Stains?

You might have heard that genetics are sometimes the cause of stained teeth. But we weren't quite sold on that concept considering that Americans spend about $1.4 billion annually on over-the-counter teeth whitening products according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. It turns out there are many other factors at play when it comes to why your teeth are more stain-prone, so we decided to find out what they are and how to prevent them.

First, Dunedin, FL, cosmetic dentist, H. Mikel Hopkins, DDS, says, “I don't feel that there is really evidence that staining is related to ethnicity or gender, but more to the types of foods that they may eat. Cultures that use a lot of color in their foods with heavy spices are definitely more likely to stain." For example, your love for Italian dishes with red pasta sauce could be the culprit behind your tooth stains. Or, people that eat a lot of acidic foods will have a problem with staining because acid weakens the enamel.

While ethnicity doesn't necessarily play a role in how likely your teeth are to stain, genetics can cause some people's enamel to be more porous than others. The more porous, the higher likelihood of stains. Also, if you drink coffee, tea, and red wine your teeth will stain more rapidly.

“If you drink a lot of coffee, teas and red wines, visiting your hygienist four times a year may be needed,” says San Francisco cosmetic dentist Niloufer G. Hamsayeh, DDS. Flossing, brushing and rinsing thoroughly after consuming foods that are more likely to stain your teeth is important to prevent the color from soaking in. But keep in mind that you shouldn't brush after red wine as it will spread the enamel dissolving acid all over your teeth. Instead, rinse with water.

The most effective way to remove stains is to have them professionally removed by a dentist. “If you have bleached before, it is important to do monthly touch-ups with the trays and bleach to keep the teeth free of stains and looking as white as possible,” says Dr. Hopkins.

Related Links:
The Culprits Behind Stained Teeth
Make Your New Smile Results Last Longer

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5 Comments
  • Posted on

    The Rotodent toothbrush can remove plaque approximately 2 and possibly 3 millimeters. No way will it clean further and especially not a 5-6 millimeter pocket. My advice is to make sure you eliminate any of the deep pockets beyond 4 mm and you can usually do this working with your hygienist and dentist. But you should also consider using the HydroFloss...a water irrigating device similar to the Water Pik... There are conservative techniques that can help you reduce deep pocketing like deep currettage, or even Laser Assisted (LANAP) procedures that can eliminate the diseased tissue without surgery. But you do need to visit your dentist or periodontist who specializes in eliminating the disease and keeping your tissue in good health.

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Dr. Goldstein...the Rhotodent - how far will it reach below the gumline? If for example we used the measuring method used at dental offices of 1 through 6 depth from gumline down to the depth of pockets between each tooth and the gum, how deep will the Rhotodent clean?

  • Posted on

    Yes...the Rotodent is my choice of a site specific brush because it uses soft filaments instead of brushes to carefully go into your gingival sulcus (the part of the gum that starts at the gumline and extends to the bone) to clean out any plaque present. I also like the Interplak for more rapid cleaning. Please see my full response about how to better manage your gums and teeth under the heading..."Do Genetics Make YOur Teeth MOre Prone to Stains"

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Dr. Goldstein, do you have a preferred site specific rotary brush that you suggest to your patients?

  • Posted on

    There is another factor in why some teeth stain. If your tooth enamel is rough instead of highly polished or glossy it will tend to stain more. In addidtion there are some food substances that are more acidic than others and if your enamel becomes etched due to the acid it will tend to stain more. So make sure your hygienist or dentist evaluates the finish of your enamel if you are developing stains within a week or two after cleaning. I had a patient in last week that accumulated a great deal of stain and mainly because she was getting plaque between the necks of her teeth and this deposit build-up was attracting stain like a magnet. The solution was to use a site specific rotary brush at the gumline at least once daily in order to remove the deposits before they harden and attract the stain.

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