Stained TeethEveryone wants a shining, white smile, so it’s disheartening if baby or adult teeth are discolored or have marks on them. Stains can be all shapes and sizes: spots, patches, a line that crosses the tooth, or a dark ring that circles between teeth. Some stains are small but others affect large areas, several teeth, or every tooth in the mouth. Most tooth stains are easy to remove, but a few develop as teeth are forming. These stains are called intrinsic and include fluorosis defects. Intrinsic stains usually require more complex treatment, so they will be discussed in a separate post.

White Spots, Calculus and Tartar

When the surface of a tooth is damaged by acidity, the first visible change is that the enamel becomes whiter than normal. When enamel is de-mineralized it is soft, like chalk. Patches of weak enamel are known as white spots, and they usually disappear when tooth enamel strengthens. If white spots are ignored, they can disintegrate and become a cavity. If mouth acidity is not controlled, especially after meals and drinks, not only will white spots form, but plaque will harden into a crusty later known as calculus or tartar.

Stains from Drinks

It’s not the color of drinks that stain teeth, but the acidity of the drink or food that opens the pores in the tooth enamel, which allows the foods and drinks to stain. Strong enamel does not stain!  Don’t think it is a good idea to put xylitol into drinks to stop them from staining – it will not be effective! The drink will remain acidic and the benefit of xylitol will be lost. It is more effective to use Zellies mints and gum to protect your teeth after every meal, snack or drink.

How to Prevent Stains

Don’t try to bleach white spots away or stains from drinks, since bleaching increases enamel weakness and roughens the tooth surface (which is not the help teeth need).  Of course a healthy diet is important, but to prevent white spots, calculus, and stains, it is vital to control acidity in the mouth and strengthen teeth.

Zellies protect teeth from acidity  (after every meal, drink or snack) and teeth are strengthened by the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System when it is used every morning and before bed. It may take 6 months to stop stains, calculus, and plaque forming and a dental cleaning may be necessary to remove old stains and dead plaque.  The good news is that after this dental visit, the future will be so much brighter for your teeth – with shiny enamel and happy teeth!

Dead Plaque Stains

It is a surprising fact but some stains signal improving oral health. This unique situation occurs when there is a rapid change from bad to great oral health. Old plaque can remain stuck between teeth, in grooves, and along the gum line. This stain is a one-time occurrence and it happens when there is a lot of infected plaque in the mouth as patients begin using the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System. Don’t worry if you notice dead plaque staining, since it tells you that your gums and mouth are getting healthier. Once a dental cleaning removes this stain it will not return, providing you maintain good oral care.

Colored (Chromorgenic) Bacteria

Some people have specific mouth germs that stain teeth – and these are called chromogenic bacteria. This stain is often seen directly after a cleaning, and most of theses patients are women with excellent oral health. We believe this unusual stain occurs after teeth have been denuded or stripped of a protective layer called pellicle (that normally repels bacteria and stains). Some things that denude teeth appear to be baking soda, peroxide, bleaching, strong acids (like citrus fruit juices) certain teas, or from a dental cleaning.

The “Step” system

We have worked to understand chromogenic stains, and find a way to eliminate it. We have discovered a method that uses a “stepped” version of the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System. Remember, this stain only happens to people who have excellent oral health and is usually experienced within days of a cleaning.

To avoid chromogenic stains we suggest you “step” into the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System, starting immediately after a dental cleaning. Use Zellies xylitol products in the normal way (after meals and drinks) but use only Crest Cavity Protection toothpaste to clean your teeth morning and night (no rinses) for the first two weeks after the cleaning. We believe Crest Cavity Protection paste and Zellies will help re-build the necessary protection layer. After this period of time, Closys and the other parts of the system can be added. By easing into the full system, it appears you can avoid chromogenic stains that some people experience.

The Step Method:  – begin immediately after a dental cleaning:

  • Week 1 and 2  – use only Crest Cavity Protection toothpaste and Zellies (to allow the pellicle layer to reform).
  • Week 3  – add Closys before you brush – continue with Zellies as ususal
  • Week4  – add Listerine and ACT steps, to resume the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System, used as normal.


Want to learn more about oral health? Click here to sign-up for our monthly e-guide!


Download our latest guidebooks for Ultimate Oral Health:

Zellies Xylitol Booklet CoverZellies CMCS Booklet


For more information on oral health and xylitol, please visit all of Dr. Ellie’s web-sites: – learn more & order your Zellies Xylitol & the Complete Mouth Care System
Dr. – a great resource for learning more about oral health & Dr. Ellie
Dr. E Oral Health Coaching – articles, resources and videos to help you learn more

Join the conversation online on the Zellies Facebook page!

You may also like

Moms Oral Health Matters

Moms Oral Health Matters
  • Hi Dr. Ellie,

    I was excited to start your system, and I started it with gusto right after a cleaning. Unfortunately, my teeth now looks stained, just a week after my cleaning . The stains are mostly gray, but there are also a few brown spots. I am guessing this is the chromogenic staining you mentioned. (?) So after one week on your system, I stepped off and I am just doing crest and xylitol. But after almost 2 weeks of that, the staining is still present. Should I go and get it immediately cleaned off and then step into your system? Or should I live with it for six months until my next dentist visit? Will it go away without another harsh cleaning? This particular cleaning was more harsh than usual with a very rough for hygienist who even used some pumis on my front teeth and scraped all around my gums even though there wasn’t plaque there :(. Knowing what I know now, I don’t even want another cleaning… but I do feel like I need to get rid of the stains. Any suggestions you have would be helpful, as to whether I should get it cleaned off or not. Oh, I also just switched to a medium brush last week, but that has not gone off the stains either. Thank you. I believe in your system and want to be able to use it without staining.

    • Ugh – we are in a cycle that is difficult to get out from. I’d suggest you find another and more compassionate dentist for your next cleaning. Pumice is not good. The idea is that we need to find a way to cover your teeth with protective biofilm – a thin covering that will protect them from staining. You may have to go through this cycle a few times before you manage to break free – but don’t give up….you do need a more fun hygienist – so ask your friends for some recommendations.

      • Thanks for your response. It’s nice to have a plan of attack and to know ahead of time that it will take a few cycles so that I don’t give up and think it isn’t working. I’m looking forward to the day when I can just say, “No thank you, I don’t need a cleaning !”

  • Oops! It’s only been 1 month since my cleaning. I have only had white teeth for one month! It seems longer.

    • I hope that all my salt water rinsing won’t cause my mouth to be dry. I try to remember to have a zellie after the salt water. I have been using mouthwatcher toothbrushes for 4 years and Philips Sonicare for 15+ yrs. and am fairly certain I am brushing hard enough~

  • The more I investigate staining the more I think it related to using too soft a brush.
    Ensure you have a medium one – and aim to massage your gums with it – in the way that I suggest.
    Keep using the system twice daily – and xylitol after meals, but my advice is not to switch to other stuff like baking soda or oil pulling etc,.because I hear so many stories about those who have and it didn’t help them – just made things worse.

    • Hi, Dr. Ellie!
      Hope you are well! Thank you for all the postings. I have some interesting news to report regarding my tooth stains. I have been using the system for 4 years and have had black tooth stains for 4 years. I went in for my 6 month cleaning in January, and the new dentist I saw said she has had a number of young patients (kids) come in with the black stained teeth. Looked like they were coffee drinkers/cigarette smokers. She finally realized that the common denominator was that they were all swimmers. She has them brush before swimming so that chlorine does not come into contact with as much tooth plaque. It is her opinion that in the few people with our specific body chemistry, chromogenic bacteria tends to stain chlorinated plaque. I do not know if this is true. All I know is that I have been using a mild salt water rinse solution (1/8 t per 1 C of water) instead of Closys for the last 2 months, and I no longer have the stained teeth.
      (I have not reintroduced the Listerine and Act yet; I would like to. I am so happy with my white teeth that I am afraid to change anything until closer to my next cleaning,) I eat/chew tons of Zellies and have been taking Garden of Life probiotics for 4 years.

      Do you think the salt water solution could be harmful if used everyday long term ?

      Thank you so much for caring so much~ about all of your patients and all of us

  • Hi there, Dr. Ellie! I have been using the Complete Mouthcare System religiously for 4 years now. Thank you! I continue to get the black chromogenic stains, but will try again today (because I have a dental cleaning today) to wean myself back on the system after 2 weeks of just zellies and original Crest, followed by adding Closys for one week. Wish me luck! I will let you know how it goes.
    Over the past year (just after getting my braces off), my gums have started to recede dramatically. It scares me, as I am told that I will need surgery. My gums were in very good shape 4 years ago. I don’t know if this is just heredity (both parents had gum surgery when they were in their 50s, I am 62), or from brushing my teeth too much (I had full blown braces for 2 years, to correct my bite, at age 59-61). I didn’t brush too hard, but probably too much. I was meticulous about my mouth rinses and zellies during this time. Or do you think there a possibility that it is from the Complete Mouthcare System? I sure hope not because I do not want to stop using your wonderful system! Thank you so much for sharing any thoughts~

  • Hi Dr. Ellie! I have used your program exclusively now following every rinse and brushing to a T for 2 1/2 years now! I’m so happy with your system! I do have a question about whitening though – using just peroxide. Someone mentioned using a q-tip to paint it just on the teeth, and I wondered if you thought that was a problem for helping with the tea staining that I have. I don’t want to disrupt my progress. Thank you!

    • I am not sure that you want to do this… least not for long.
      I personally prefer people to read my chapter on whitening in Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye – to fully understand what makes teeth look white – and what peroxide is doing to them. When you understand the dangers and asses the benefits – then have a one-time professional whitening with an ethical and good dentist ….referred by someone like the Academy of Biomimetic Dentistry – so that they can ensure your mouth is safe to bleach…..otherwise you can kill teeth with the peroxide.
      Here is a link to the Academy website (these dentists appreciate the biology of teeth and respect the value of pristine healthy teeth) LINK

  • I discovered Zellies near the end of June and began the Professional Complete Mouth Care System, but had to reduce it to the Zellies Basic System once I found out I am allergic to xylitol. Apparently, I have been experiencing Dead Plaque Staining and it seems to be getting worse; between teeth, at base of teeth, and in groves on teeth. I am not due another dental cleaning until mid-December and have concerns of how much more staining will occur between now and then. Also, I see in a July 2nd blog response to Cindi S. the recommendation of Zellies upon leaving the dental office after a cleaning. Is there anything I can do for this since I am unable to use xylitol?

    • Most people arrive at the Complete Mouth Care System because they have dental issues – either cavities or gum problems. In most cases these people are battling a dry mouth or acidic issues ( either from drinks and diet or because their saliva is acidic). Acidity and dry mouth lead to an unbalanced mouth ecology – with too many bad bacteria and not enough good ones. Many oral care products ( especially for whitening, plaque, tartar control or sensitivity) contain baking soda, triclosan, peroxide etc. which appear to further destabilize an unhealthy or delicate mouth ecology.

      I know staining is a cosmetic problem, but plaque can damage teeth, gums and even general health. I empathize with anyone who wants to avoid staining and we are working to give suggestions and ideas to avoid this. Studies show 5 exposures to xylitol daily – especially at the end of meals – will gradually eradicate plaque and help feed healthy bacteria to correct an unhealthy bacteria balance.

      You mention that you have had difficulty with Zellies mints – and you may want to try granular xylitol for a while. You can dip a strawberry into granular xylitol as an end to each meal ( strawberries and some other fruits naturally contain a little xylitol). You may find after some months of this introduction to xylitol that you can try the mints again, using one after each meal, snack, or drink, working up to the recommended 6.5 grams over a period of several months. Here are three other suggestions:

      1. To ensure the quickest possible “transition” to healthy bacteria, maybe consider taking an oral or digestive probiotic (we have had success recommending Garden of Life brand).
      2. Buy a new toothbrush – one that is different from your existing brand (especially if you have had the same kind for a long time). A new brush may encourage you to brush at a slightly different angle or with a little different vibration to reach difficult areas on your teeth. If you have a manual brush you may want to try one of the new Sonicare brushes by Philips for something a little different – alternate morning and night or every other day.
      3. I argue that floss cannot eradicate plaque nor affect the balance of mouth bacteria – but flossing (while mouth bacteria are adjusting) may help prevent staining. You may want to use floss that contains xylitol and use this before you start the first rinse of the Complete Mouth Care System.

      I hope this helps. Please let us know how things progress so we can share your story with others who may have similar experiences. I wonder what kind of reaction you experienced from xylitol? Pure xylitol does not have a history of allergic response, but it can upset a delicate digestive system. This is why a slow introduction, combined with an effective probiotic, can overcome this – and may even help to iron out digestive problems.

      • Thank you very much for all of the feedback. My allergic reaction following use of mints or gum involves tingling, burning, and very irritated skin in the following areas: forehead, cheeks, chin, neck, sternum/rib areas to include between shoulder blades. After taking an antihistamine and stopping use of the xylitol products, the reaction alleviated itself given 24-48 hours and no other diet changes. I have concerns of experiencing the same reactions upon consuming granular xylitol and wonder about mixing it with a little water to try as a rinse instead of consuming it, as long as no allergic reaction occurs. Is it effective in this manner? If yes, what is the amount of water to use to mix it and frequency of rinsing?

  • It’s important to remember that some stains are on surface only, while others actually go even deeper beneath the enamel. Depending on how severe the stains are will impact how long it takes to whiten your teeth to the brightness you want.

  • Hi, I’m so amazed by all I’ve read and learned! Thank you so much for all the information provided, I find myself hopeful about dental care for the first time in years.

    My only concerns… I’m wondering if a diagnosed case of dentinogenesis imperfecta (without OI) in my almost 6 year old, or Ehlers-Danlos (type 3) in myself, would call for anything else to be done. Perhaps higher, or more frequent doses of Xylitol? She likes the Xylitol granules plain, from a spoon, and if she had her way, would eat a cup every day. I’ve been giving 2 tsp spread over the day. Lastly, regarding Listerine, how “diluted” is acceptable? I’ve been diluting with 2/3 water for her.

    Although we’ve only started a week ago, we’ve been following the steps to the letter, and my daughter is extremely excited. She has has been proudly telling everyone who will listen that she is going to have “shiny, new, strong teeth” soon. It breaks my heart to see the way some people look at her when she proudly smiles and shows off her spotted, colored, broken teeth. She has always been very involved in her dental care… she shops the dental floss and toothpaste aisles like a kid in a candy store and before she eats anything, she asks if it has “sugar bugs” in it.

    I want to help her, and she wants to help herself. Most parents hope for “no cavity” dentist appointments. As someone familiar with some of the misfortunes these disorders can bring might understand…. in our household, the most we hope for is “nothing needs to be pulled immediately”.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Thank you for your message – and I am glad you have found xylitol to help your daughter and your family with oral health. It sounds as if you are doing everything very well – and the Listerine dilution should be fine. I’d be able to help you a little more if I could see a picture of your daughter’s teeth – maybe you could contact us through Dr.E coaching site – and ask for my email address. I’d be happy to give you any other thoughts ( no charge) – but a photo would help a lot!

      • I had a teeth cleaning about a month ago. About a week later I noticed that my upper teeth had developed brownish, translucent streaks/spots. Could that be the chromogenic staining you are talking about? I worried that my teeth were thinning, discovered your system and started using it (about three weeks after the cleaning) without realizing that I had to slowly work my teeth into it like you suggested above.

        After the cleaning I was using Pronamel toothpaste like they suggested and taking some xylitol throughout the day. But the translucent-looking spots remain. Should I continue to do the full program? I’ve been doing it for about 5 days now.

        I have been using full-strength Listerine too. Should I dilute it?

        Also, does oil-pulling (with sesame oil) in the morning interfere with doing your program before evening? Thank you so much for giving me hope that I can re-enamel my teeth (if that’s the problem)!

        • I’m a bit confused about your system of oral care – so I think your teeth may be as well!
          I’d suggest stopping everything and use only the Zellies system of care – exactly as we recommend – with Zellies mints or gum after every meal, snack or drink. You will not achieve the same benefits if you mix and match products – and that includes oil pulling.

          Your diet and digestive health are also part of any tooth-repair program – so maybe take an effective Probiotic ( we like Garden of Life Raw Probiotics for men/women ). Xylitol/Zellies will help protect your teeth from acid damage but you also need to develop a protective bacterial flora( mix of bacteria) on your teeth and in your mouth. When this bacterial flora is disrupted by chemicals, harsh treatments etc – it may take 8-10 weeks to re-establish. Only then can your teeth begin to replenish lost minerals. Hopefully at this time your tooth discoloration will go away.

          Feel free to send us a picture by email (to our coaching site) and if you have any more questions. It would be easier to help with a photo and it would be neat to have a before and after picture to document your progress!

  • Whats your view on sodium mfp toothpastes with high flouride, Like 1500ppm mfp verses the sudium flouride 1100?

    • Evidence based studies show that stronger fluoride ( gels and toothpastes) have a use for high risk patients – but offer no benefit to moderate or low risk patients. It appears strong fluoride kill bacteria – but the long-term outcome of this protocol is poor.

      Evidence based studies show frequent use of dilute fluoride used topically ( as a paste or rinse) is effective for remineralization ( and stronger fluorides may not produce this effect).Clinically I have never seen good results from use of Prevident or stronger fluoride pastes and gels.

      I believe the use of dilute fluoride in a regimen with adequate xylitol (ideally using the system of care we recommend) will give high risk patients the opportunity to overcome any bacterial imbalance in their mouth and the chance to remineralize caries.

  • Dr Ellie, Thank you for your very informative site! I have a question about plaque, tartar and children’s teeth. I have daughter age 7 and son age 5. Our family started on xylitol about 10 months ago. About 3 months into using xylitol, we went in for a checkup and got membership into the “no cavity club.” We were thrilled because we had always had some trouble areas in our previous checks but at that checkup we were given the thumbs up!

    So We continued using xylitol daily, and as I mentioned, it’s now been about 10 months of daily use (along with brushing with ACT twice daily). The kids usually take 2 mints after each meal, so about 1 gram, and they get it about 4 times a day. So I guess a total of 4 grams in 4 exposures each day (sometimes more but rarely less). NOt sure if this is sufficient but since they are kids I wasn’t sure if the adult recommendation applies.

    Anyway, we went in for another cleaning/checkup last week. My daughter’s 4 bottom front permanent teeth have all grown in. The teeth are very squished together and tight and crooked in that area. The hygienist said she had a lot of calculus on the backside/inside of those 4 adult front teeth. The hygienist spent 5 minutes cleaning the tartar just off them. She mentioned there was plaque in the back of the top molars (adult molars that have come in about 75%). So, although there were no cavities for either of them, these areas caused me some concern especially since I thought we were being very diligent about using xylitol and brushing 2 times/daily with ACT. How can we improve what we are doing to prevent this plaque/tartar buildup?

    Again, thank you so much for all you do!

    • Thanks for the question. Any calculus or tartar indicates plaque growth and too much mouth acidity. My guess would be that your kids have either 1) not been having enough good xylitol or 2) they have some acidic snacks or drinks between meals or 3) your kids have risk factors that put them into a “more prone to plaque” category. Here are my thoughts on these points:

      1) Many parents think all xylitol works the same, and although I don’t want to sound like a Zellies salesperson – I consult with many people who don’t experienced the same results when they use other xylitol products ( particularly hard mints). I’d suggest you think about using xylitol in water as a drink, consider Zellie-Bears ( 1.3 grams in each) or find a way for your kids to have at least 6 grams per day for 6 months, and definitely until you have ended the plaque problem.

      2) Limit acidic snacks, juices, or drinks ( besides water) to mealtimes and end every meal ( as you do) with xylitol. Many people are unaware that flavored waters, smart water, sports drinks, vitamin water, etc. are acidic and therefore a potential problem for calculus and plaque. Remember cheese is a good snack food that helps teeth mineralize!

      3) If your kids have allergies or sinus issues this may make them breathe through their mouths ( especially at night) and increase their risk for plaque. It’s a problem we can overcome with my system of care. Teeth that are cleaned with the products I recommend, have an advantage with a drier mouth at night because the residue from the rinses “dry” on teeth, to protect them longer. Other things to consider are inter-family transfer (parents and grandparents must remember plaque is a transmissible infection) and toothbrushes must be cleaned regularly, and stored safely.

      I think both your kids would do well to use Closys – Crest – and ACT in that order, with no water rinsing between the steps. Only use a pea size amount of Crest – a small amount will be more tolerable. If you are having issues at the start, put the pea size amount of Crest and a drop of ACT over the top of it, on the brush! I think your kids should also rinse and spit with ACT – it will do much to help the new teeth “mature” and harden. New teeth are rough and lack the minerals that coat and protect them. My system will help and keep teeth safe!

      We’d love to hear how things go at your next check up!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


    %d bloggers like this: