How To Remove Tea Stains From Teeth

How do I remove tea stains from my teeth?

To remove tea stains from teeth, floss and brush twice daily using smokers toothpaste or stain removal toothpaste – this is a temporary solution as the coarse paste could damage tooth enamel over time. Dental polishing treatments to remove tea stains before whitening are available. Eating crunchy foods can also help to scrub tea stained teeth.

Tea stains on the teeth can be difficult to remove at home. Tips such as swilling the mouth with water after drinking dark tea or coffee, and drinking anything other than water through a straw can help to prevent stains from forming on the teeth. However, where stains have already formed, there are various methods of helping to reduce the appearance of the stain.

Tips to remove tea stains from the teeth include:

  • Brush twice per day and develop a regular flossing regime

    A major cause of tea stains on the teeth is a failure to remove tannin – a natural compound found in tea – from the surface of the teeth after drinking (please see below: “What causes tea stains on the teeth?”).

    Where tannins (and other food debris) are allowed to build-up on the surface of the tooth, a sticky substance called plaque can form, trapping the tannin against the enamel. Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly will help to remove and prevent plaque from forming on the teeth.

  • Eat more naturally abrasive foods to help remove tea stains

    Certain ‘brittle’ or ‘crunchy’ foods can help to scrub the teeth when chewing, gradually removing tea stains over time. Examples include apples, carrots, mixed nuts, seeds, celery, popcorn, pea pods, whole grain cereals, pears, cucumbers, radishes, chestnuts, rice crackers, bread crusts, and breadsticks.

Home dental whitening vs. teeth whitening at the dentist

Tooth whitening can be an effective method of removing tea stains from the teeth. There are several important differences to consider when choosing between whitening the teeth at home and teeth whitening from the dentist. Although the associated costs of over-the-counter home teeth whitening systems are generally lower, the outcome does not always meet expectations.

Benefits of teeth whitening at the dentist:

  • The dentist will polish/remove the stain before whitening the enamel

    One of the reasons that patients do not achieve the desired results when investing in an at-home teeth whitening system to remove tea stains from the teeth is that the stain prevents the bleaching agent from reaching the enamel.

    The dentist will use professional dental tools to remove the tea stain before applying the bleaching agent, resulting in improved overall whitening of the enamel.

  • The dentist offers stronger bleaching agents compared to store-bought gels

    Depending on the product, over-the-counter bleaching gels typically range in peroxide strength from between 3% – 20%. In contrast, the strength of the bleaching agent available from the dentist typically ranges from between 15% – 43%. The dentist may also apply heat or light to increase the effectiveness of the process.

    This means that the dentist is able to offer superior results in removing tea stains from the teeth when compared to at-home teeth whitening gels, with results from the dentist showing an increase of 3x-8x the brightness of the original tea stained tooth enamel. Single session courses are also available from the dentist.

  • The dentist will offer bespoke trays and ongoing advice on tea stain removal

    Teeth whitening gels are applied to the teeth via a tray. Store-bought trays are unlikely to give a perfect fit in the mouth – gum irritation and gel leaking out of the tray are common issues. The dentist will offer bespoke trays to ensure that once the tea stain has been removed, the application of the tooth whitening gel will be a comfortable experience.

    Teeth whitening is linked to tooth sensitivity, which is typically more noticeable in the hours following treatment. The dentist can help to control sensitivity issues by tailoring a teeth whitening course that involves shorter sessions over a longer treatment period. The dentist can also advise on tips to reduce symptoms of heightened sensitivity, such as placing sensitive toothpaste in a bespoke tray and applying to the teeth.

What causes tea stains on the teeth?

Tea stains on the teeth are caused by naturally occurring compounds called tannins. Over consumption of tannins is linked to nausea, stomach ache, and vomiting, but in normal doses (e.g. several daily cups of tea) the main issue is brown/black tea stains on the teeth. Black tea, black coffee, and dark red wines result in greater staining issues.

The body protects the tooth enamel by forming a thin film (made from components found within saliva) on the surface of the teeth. This mildly antibacterial coating, called the pellicle, starts to form moments after cleaning the teeth and develops to full capacity within a few hours. This protective layer can trap tannins against the tooth, which if not cleaned can stain the enamel.

Remember – black tea contains more tannins than black coffee. Follow the advice listed above on how to remove tea stains from the teeth to avoid a build-up of tannins on the teeth.

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