life as I experience it

Mystery of the stained teeth: solved

My teeth had always been pretty healthy. Small fillings here and there but nothing too serious. I never had the terrible tooth pain I hear a lot about and I hope I will never too, especially since I started to go sugar-free.

I used to drink coffee and eat chocolate, especially dark chocolate. In the previous years before getting pregnant with my son I had also started having a small glass of red wine in the evening. I never smoked, not even out of curiosity. Therefore, my teeth were never shining white, but they were good enough (I think they were A2 on the teeth color chart?).

During my first pregnancy, I had to take some iron supplements which were liquid. And after giving birth I noticed that some stains started appearing on my teeth, no matter how well I brushed. No surprise there, I knew iron would stain the teeth, but I had stopped taking the supplement so I was expecting an improvement.

Red wine had been no longer on my list, weeks before getting pregnant. I had reduced coffee consumption while being pregnant and then breastfeeding. Still my stains were there. Getting larger, more noticeable.

I went to the dental hygienist on a regular basis and after the treatment my teeth looked better, but still had few stains on them. Which again grew in size and number until the next visit at the hygienist. I was told to quit wine (checked), iron supplements (checked), smoking (checked), chocolate and coffee. These last two I wasn’t able to cut out of my daily life. I would have, if I was convinced that they were the cause of the stains. I had always eaten chocolate and I had been drinking coffee since I was in University, still the stains only appeared in the last years. And nothing seemed to help.

This whole thing was getting annoying and frustrating. It seemed like this was a mystery, never to be solved….

“Do you use mouthwash?”

Then I talked to a dentist. I told her all these details that intrigued me so she looked more carefully at the shape of the stains. And then her face lightened up and she asked “Do you use mouthwash?”. I proudly said “Yes, of course!”. I had always done, once a day. I had changed it when I got pregnant with my son, as I wanted to make sure I stayed out of potentially dangerous chemicals, so I had chosen an organic one.

The dentist continued: “Your stains look exactly like those caused by mouthwash” (and she mentioned a brand name). “Stop using it for a few weeks and see if you notice any improvements”.

Excuse me, what? Aren’t mouthwashes supposed to help your teeth, make them healthier and better looking? I was intrigued and skeptical about this explanation.

As soon as I got home I started my investigation online and to my surprise, the dentist was right: certain mouthwashes can cause stains, especially if food is consumed soon after its usage. More specifically, I learned that for example “chlorhexidine gluconate”, one of the ingredients of mouthwashes, causes stains (source). Oh my! So the new mouthwash was the cause? I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t, but I will see in three months time.

So now I know (and so do you): you can stain your teeth by consuming certain foods/drinks and by using mouthwash.


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