What is staining my teeth?
June 30, 2010 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I don't drink coffee, tea, wine, or soda. I don't smoke, chew on markers, or neglect to brush. The stains are dark brown and are worst around the gum line where the toothbrush doesn't reach as well.

I can scrape the stains off with my fingernails but it isn't easy. I even stopped taking a multivitamin for a time to see if excess iron could be the cause, to no avail.
posted by silvicolous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you taking tetracycline?
posted by Evangeline at 4:21 PM on June 30, 2010

You don't use Crest Pro-Health, do you? Apparently it stains some people's teeth brown.
posted by Evangeline at 4:29 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not on any medications or tetracycline.
posted by silvicolous at 4:30 PM on June 30, 2010

I've used both Listerine and Crest Pro-Health mouthwashes, and the stains happen regardless.
posted by silvicolous at 4:34 PM on June 30, 2010

Do your gums bleed when you brush? (Could it be blood?)
posted by marimeko at 4:37 PM on June 30, 2010

Nope, not blood. The dental hygienist has trouble getting them off with an ultrasonic scaler and polisher.
posted by silvicolous at 4:51 PM on June 30, 2010

Do you floss?
posted by chrchr at 5:02 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you misunderstood Evangeline's question. Crest Pro-Health CAUSES brown stains on teeth. Crazy but true - it happened to me.

(Not permanent, thankfully; the stains went away with some OTC teeth whitener treatments and switching to regular toothpaste.)
posted by ErikaB at 5:02 PM on June 30, 2010

Both chlorhexidine and phenol can cause tooth stains. I believe that Listerine contains phenol, I know that Peridex contains chlorhexidine, and Crest Pro-Health is known to cause brown stains. It may very well be your mouthwash.

Or it could just as easily be something else. Maybe make an appointment with your dentist?

Bit on tooth discoloration at Wikipedia.
posted by moira at 5:07 PM on June 30, 2010

I do floss. My toothpaste is regular Crest, and my mouthwash is Crest Pro-Health.
posted by silvicolous at 5:10 PM on June 30, 2010

On preview, I see your hygienist knows about your stains. Have you spoken directly with your dentist about them?
posted by moira at 5:10 PM on June 30, 2010

my mouthwash is Crest Pro-Health

I'd discontinue the Pro-Health and see if it helps.
posted by moira at 5:11 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

We recently had a patient who would come in every two months to have her teeth cleaned because she was getting Black Line Stain. It is a very tenacious stain, difficult to remove, we were getting frustrated working so hard, patient was getting frustrated because she was very meticulous with her home care, brushing three times a day, flossing and using mouthrinses.

As we figured out, she was being so good, she had changed the quality of her natural occuring oral bacteria. Black line stain usually occurs in very clean mouths, and with our patient, it took her backing off just a little bit on her routine and she no longer presents with the stain.

I would make sure that you concentrate on brushing at the gumline when brushing, you say you have a difficult time reaching those areas, but perfect your technique, the ADHA has a great demo for this, linking isn't working for me right now. Keep the plaque off, but back off the rinses that are killing the good bacteria for now, see if stain improves.

Just so I'm well understood: Don't back off brushing and flossing! Use rinses less, unless you are in treatment for periodontal disease, or you have active decay, you do not need to go scorched earth in your mouth.
posted by Jazz Hands at 5:15 PM on June 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Stop using the Pro-Health, use an OTC whitening kit to remove the existing stains, and I'm willing to bet that the stains will not return!
posted by ErikaB at 5:18 PM on June 30, 2010

I've talked to my dentist and he didn't have any idea what could be doing it. The stains were happening before I switched to Crest Pro-Health mouthwash from Listerine, so that isn't the cause, though it could be contributing.

At this point I think I'll try the tech support routine of stopping every potential cause, then adding them back one by one.
posted by silvicolous at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2010

FYI, brushing with a paste made from little bit of baking soda with hydrogen peroxide is really good, like really ridiculous good, in my experience for getting rid of stains. Not something you should do a lot, since it is corrosive, but my dentist was cool with it. Might be a good way to see if you can get your teeth back to a blank slate.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:21 PM on June 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

I've found that a Sonicare toothbrush really helps with cleaning along the gumline. My hygenist comments every time I get a cleaning that my gumline looks really good and I must still be using a Sonicare. They are expensive, but I am thankful for less time spent having my teeth scraped. It's the only electric toothbrush I've ever used, but I'd imagine others probably work well too?
posted by hydropsyche at 6:34 PM on June 30, 2010

Sonics arent necessarily any better, my hygenist told me to ditch mine for an oscillating brush citing the fact that sonic tools used by dentists employ a great deal of water, which you can't replicate at home.

The oscillating/pulsating power toothbrush.. was more effective than the high-frequency power toothbrush....

You can get just as good results using a manual brush as you can using an expensive sonic toothbrush

posted by Ness at 4:49 AM on July 1, 2010

You can get just as good results using a manual brush as you can using an expensive sonic toothbrush

Maybe you can, but as I said, I really can't.

Since the OP is having a similar problem to the one I used to have, I thought the electric toothbrush might be worth a try, and, as I specifically said, although Sonicare is the kind I use others may work just as well.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2010

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