What are the worst causes of tooth staining?

Posted on October 11, 2017 by Marcus Davitt

When it comes to keeping your teeth white, it can sometimes be a tall order. From yellow coloured foods and tannin containing tea, there are a whole host of culprits that can leave your teeth looking a murky shade of yellow.

At Bath Street Dental, many patients come to us to have their teeth whitened and ask what kinds of things cause them to discolour. That’s why we’ve put together a top five list of the worst culprits for tooth discolouration – helping you to be in the know.


Believe it or not, if you want to keep your teeth white, tea is the worst thing you can drink. This is because it contains a natural compound called tannin, which binds to the protein in your enamel. This creates discolouration that appears yellow and brown, and can often make your back teeth look rotten when they’re not.

Tea lovers – don’t despair. We’re not saying to give up your beloved hot drink, but try and brush your teeth within 30 minutes of having a cup.


Like tea, wine contains teeth-staining tannins. Both red and white affect your teeth, but strangely, because white wine has more tannins, it can make your teeth more likely to absorb stains from the food you eat.

If you’ve had a glass of wine, look after your teeth by rinsing your mouth with water after you’ve had a drink.


We all know the many health risks of smoking, but the habit can also wreak havoc on the colour of your teeth, making them turn yellow and brown. This is thanks to the tar, which is contained in the tobacco within the cigarette.

The best thing you can do for cigarette related tooth staining is to give up smoking. We see many ex-smokers looking to whiten their smiles after the damage cigarettes have caused – and many people even treat themselves to tooth whitening after they’ve managed to kick the habit.

Fizzy drinks

    Not only can sugary, fizzy drinks cause your teeth to decay, they can also discolour them. This is because fizzy drinks contain two substances that cause staining – phosphoric acid and chromogens. Phosphoric acid is added to drinks to flavour them, but it also weakens your tooth enamel and leaves them open to the effects of stain-causing food and drink.

    Chromogens are used to give drinks like cola it’s colour, but they also stain your teeth. When your tooth enamel has been eroded by phosphoric acid, it offers the perfect environment for chromogens to get in and cause a yellowy-brown appearance.

    Tomato sauces

      Many people eat tomato sauces – whether it’s spaghetti bolognaise or a splosh of red sauce. Unfortunately for your teeth, tomato-based sauces can stain your teeth yellow. To protect your teeth from these yellowing effects, eat some green veggies like broccoli or spinach first, since these will form a protective layer on your teeth.


      If you’re ready to lighten up your smile and increase your self-confidence, we offer a range of tooth whitening options that can be safely carried out in the comfort of your own home. While there are many tooth whitening kits on the market, our options are safe and less likely to damage your teeth. If you have any questions, or would like to book in for a consultation, please call: 01235 520 101.