When you look in the mirror, you can’t help but notice that stains have formed between your teeth. You feel embarrassed. The stains between your teeth have taken your beautiful smile away.

Research shows that three in five Americans don’t like how their smiles look. This is a problem given that 76% said that most individuals base their first impressions of others on their smiles.

Understanding what causes stains between teeth may help you eliminate and prevent them. Let’s explore how stains form between teeth and how a dentist can get your smile pearly white again.


A major cause of teeth stains is tartar, also known as calculus. This is the hardened form of plaque, the soft, sticky substance that forms on your teeth after you eat.

Tartar may appear yellow or brown when it accumulates on your pearly whites along the gumline. That’s because tartar is porous, making it vulnerable to staining when you drink or eat.

Calculus typically forms on the teeth if you don’t floss and brush regularly. Brushing twice daily and flossing once daily can help prevent plaque from turning into calculus.

No amount of brushing or flossing at home can remove tartar. Only a dental cleaning can help remove this hard substance. Sometimes deep cleanings are necessary to remove stubborn calculus buildup if it’s caused gum disease (inflammation and potentially bone loss).


Certain beverages and foods may cause discolored teeth. Common sources of staining include red wine, black tea, and coffee. Other causes include:

  • Curry
  • Cola
  • Dark fruit juice (e.g., prune juice)
  • Pasta sauce
  • Dark berries (e.g., pomegranates, blueberries, and blackberries)

Rinse your teeth with lukewarm water after eating stain-causing beverages and foods to keep tooth stains at bay. Sipping liquids through straws might limit your teeth’s exposure to these foods, further preventing staining. Professional teeth whitening may help remove stains from the above-listed foods and drinks (more on this later).


Your medications might be causing the stains between your pearly whites. This is especially true if you take liquid medicine.

An example of a stain-causing medicine is a medicated oral rinse prescribed to treat gum disease. It’s called chlorhexidine. The rinse might cause brown spotting throughout the mouth within a couple of weeks.

Speak with your doctor if you notice brown tooth areas after using a new medicine. They may be able to prescribe an alternative that won’t stain your teeth. An alternative solution is professionally cleaning or whitening your teeth to remove the staining


Aging is another cause of stains between teeth. Your teeth weaken as you get older. That’s because the hard substance covering each tooth (enamel) erodes. This means your teeth may absorb beverage and food colors more easily, leading to brown staining between the teeth.

Stains affect the entire tooth, but you may notice more stains between the teeth if they are darker than those on the teeth’s front surfaces. Teeth might also look brown because enamel erosion makes the tooth layer beneath the enamel more visible. This layer is called the dentin, and it’s naturally darker than enamel.

An in-office teeth whitening procedure may help eliminate the brown stains. In-store whitening kits are another convenient teeth-whitening option.


Brown spots between the teeth might be indicators of decay. Decay can turn into cavities, or holes in the teeth.

Tooth decay usually stems from consuming too many sugary or starchy drinks or foods. Plaque builds up and sticks to your teeth’s surfaces, damaging your pearly whites over time. The plaque might destroy your enamel and make it look brown if not removed.

Schedule a visit with a dentist immediately if you see these spots. They’ll use dental X-rays to confirm if you have cavities. You may need tooth-colored dental fillings to treat these holes.


Tobacco is another common cause of tooth staining. Vaping, smoking, or using chewing tobacco typically causes staining behind a person’s front teeth, but you might also notice brown areas between the teeth.

Brush regularly to remove stains if you use tobacco. Visiting your dentist every six months may also help since your dentist will clean and polish your teeth to remove discoloration. Teeth whitening is another solution for treating stains resulting from tobacco use.


Consuming too much fluoride might lead to tooth discoloration. This is especially common in children.

You might be ingesting excess amounts of fluoride in your well or tap water. Your dentist can examine your teeth’s damage and recommend a dental solution to remove discoloration. The solution might range from teeth whitening to a dental crown to cover a stained tooth.

How to Avoid Tooth Discoloration

Preventing tooth discoloration is possible by brushing and flossing regularly. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid damaging your teeth and gums.

Interdental brushes may also help clean the spaces between your teeth. Use mouthwash after consuming acidic or sweet foods (e.g., grapes or molasses) to keep these items from causing stains. Even rinsing with water after meals may be helpful.

Avoiding tobacco use is another way to prevent tooth staining. Attend your six-month dental cleanings and exams to keep your teeth as stain-free as possible.

Teeth Whitening

Suppose your dentist recommends teeth whitening. Dental whitening involves applying bleaching chemicals to your teeth.

The chemicals penetrate your enamel, destroying the stains and making your teeth look whiter. A light is used to activate the whitening effect. This process might take one hour.

In-office whitening offers several benefits, including quick results and a thorough whitening. It may also help reduce mouth bacteria, making you less vulnerable to developing cavities.

Help With Stains Between Your Teeth

Stains between your teeth may result from tartar, foods, and certain medications. Other common causes of tooth discoloration include aging, cavities, and tobacco. Fluorosis might also cause teeth to look brown, particularly in children.

Garden Springs Dental can help you eliminate tooth stains and feel more confident about your smile. Our dental services range from professional cleanings to feelings and crowns.

Are you ready to improve your health and appearance? Schedule a dental appointment today!