Ever noticed yellow or brown spots on teeth? Brown spots on teeth mainly indicate the poor oral hygiene and such type of teeth is said to be discolored teeth. Tooth discoloration is caused due to excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks and foods which contain caramel, cigarette smoking, etc. Yellow and brown spots on teeth are subtle or darker which depend on many conditions.

People can prevent or eliminate brown spots on teeth by changing certain lifestyle habits and seeking dental treatment.

What are brown spots on teeth?

Brown spots on teeth might look like mottled patches and lines. These spots or lines could be irregular in shape. Brown spots are of two types as extrinsic and intrinsic.

The intrinsic staining is due to consumption of certain antibiotics, such as tetracycline during pregnancy, or childhood illness or injury.

On the other hand, the extrinsic spots are formed by poor oral hygiene and excessive intake of colas, cigarette smoking, etc.

Cause of brown spots on teeth

The following factors can lead to brown spots on teeth –

Tarter

Plaque build-up when becomes harder over time often results into tarter. It turns into brown spots after the formation of calculus. Tarter appears at the junction of teeth and gums.

If the plaque is kept under control by regular brushing and flossing, then chances of tater formation reduce drastically.

Tooth decay

Majorly brown spots is a sign of tooth decay. When the outer layer of teeth i.e. enamel starts to erode, it results in tooth decay. The bacteria release toxins and forms plaque on the teeth.

When sugary foods are ingested, some bacteria line up the tooth surface and breaks up the sugar and releases toxins. These toxins damage the tooth enamel and result in brown spots and cavities.

The acids or toxins released by microbes after damaging the enamel further damages the Dentin (the inner layer of the tooth which forms the bulk of the tooth).

And there is the formation of brown spots, which is darker in the shade than the worn out enamel. This also results in the formation of cavities.

Dental caries is uncomfortable and can be painful when the bacteria have invaded too deep. This decay in the tooth structure often leads to exposure of the nerves and pulp, so there is an issue of sensitivity (sensation to hot or cold foods and beverages). Thus a dentist should be consulted as soon as possible if such conditions persist. (1)

Fluorosis

Excessive fluoride in water or intake of beverages with high fluoride content results in dental fluorosis. It is one of the prime reasons for forming brown pits on the surface of the tooth which is a severe condition.

Fluorosis occurs majorly in children during the development of teeth. Excess fluoride discolors the tooth enamel. Permanent white lines or streaks often indicate mild fluorosis, whereas brown, grey or black patches and pits on top of tooth surface represent signs of more severe fluorosis. (2)

Enamel hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a condition of the teeth in which the enamel is hard but deficient in amount, caused by defective enamel matrix formation during development of teeth.

Usually, this condition involves a pit in the surface of the tooth. The contours of teeth may contain grey, white or yellowish-brown patches. Enamel hypoplasia is a genetic phenomenon. (3)

Medications

Usage of antibiotics mainly such as tetracycline and doxycycline (monodon, Doryx), cause stains on teeth. During the pregnancy intake of these medications causes the brown spots on the teeth of the child after birth.

Celiac disease

People suffering from the celiac disease often have poorly developed enamel. Brown spots on teeth are typical among people with this condition, especially children.

The symptoms of celiac disease are patches or speckles of brown, yellow, or whitish discoloration, weak enamel, pitting, and translucency. (4)

Genetics

The coloration of a tooth varies from person to person, as different people have different genetic makeup. Some people tend to have whiter teeth and others slightly yellow.

Genetic disorders like enamel hypoplasia and dentinogenesis imperfect cause brown spots on teeth.

Nicotine

Tobacco is the most significant cause of surface stains on teeth. Tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and cigars contain a substantial amount of nicotine.

The nicotine particles stick up in the pores of tooth enamel and cause staining on the teeth.

Aging

Aging is an inevitable phenomenon and as people age, the enamel which protects the teeth slowly degrades exposing the underlying tissues such as dentin. This results in brown and yellow spotting on the surface of teeth.

Treatment and prevention of brown spots

  • Taking proper care of your teeth will them keep healthy, white, and spot free. Brush after each meal and floss regularly.
  • Avoid foods and drinks having high sugar levels.
  • Brush the teeth with a mixture of baking soda and water in every few days.
  • Rinse the mouth with a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution every few days. Always rinse the mouth with water afterward.
  • For permanent brown spots on the teeth, a dentist may be able to hide discolorations or prevent further discoloration with white composite fillings, veneers, crowns.
  • If tartar or dental problems cause discoloration, you may need to visit a dentist. The dentist or dental hygienist will use instruments to scrape off the tartar and the plaque away from teeth.
  • Whitening toothpaste can be useful in eliminating brown spots caused by caffeine and cigarettes. They contain chemicals and abrasives that can disperse these stains.

Over to you

Brown spots and stains are caused due to insufficient attention to different oral habit and hygiene. Brown spots on the teeth are often the consequence of poor oral health, smoking, or consuming high sugar-containing foods and drinks. Timely professional dental help can prevent staining and further damage to your precious teeth.

Brown spots on teeth are teeth discoloration. They can be noticeable or subtle teeth discoloration in the shade from yellow to dark brown.
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