Updated: Oct 14, 2022
Have you been noticing discoloration on your teeth. The coloring doesn't seem to look very cosmetic either. Makes it look like you have orange teeth!
Orange plaque on teeth
You missed your last dental cleaning appointment and you've been noticing this orange color along your teeth by the gum line. You know what plaque is and you've seen it before but it was never this color.
What is causing the plaque to turn orange?
The orange plaque is actually an extrinsic stain on your teeth. That means that the discoloration is coming from an external source rather than an internal source. The orange stains on teeth are coming from the types of foods that you are eating, most notably anything with an orange hue to it.
Here are some foods with the color that can stain your teeth.
Citrus fruits - navel oranges, cara cara oranges, or even sumo fruits.
Orange creamsicle, ice cream or popsicle.
If you have plaque on your teeth and you eat these colored foods, a lot of times the plaque will pick up the very same color as the food. This will cause it to have an orange appearance. It is basically chromogenic bacteria that is living in the plaque that is contributing to it.
How to prevent orange plaque
You can prevent the appearance of having orange teeth by practicing good oral hygiene. Remember, it is the plaque that is getting stained by orange foods so if you had no plaque, you wouldn't be able to pick up any stains!
Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes each.
Use a fluoride toothpaste or a hydroxyapatite toothpaste.
Floss before you go to bed.
Use a mouthwash like listerine for at least 30 seconds.
What orange plaque is not
The good news is that, this is not indicative of tooth decay because the color for that is usually a brown color, ranging from light brown to dark brown.
So rest assured that when you see the color orange, it won't be decay. With that being said, the plaque may be that color but it is usually a more yellowish color. It could also turn black looking as well when it matures, especially if you are a smoker.
The plaque will pick up whatever color staining food that you are eating. Coffee is notorious for staining your teeth.
Orange teeth on children
Oh, we have a story to tell you. One time, we had an eight year old little girl who came in for her dental check up. When she opened her mouth wide, there was orange spot all over her teeth! So much more than the first photo up above.
When our long island city dentist, Dr David Chen, had asked her what she had for breakfast, she replied, "Cheetos". Certainly that potato chip is the same color as her plaque. Who eats cheetos for breakfast? Well, long story short, the plaque came off pretty easily during the teeth cleaning. After the polishing, she was back to her pearly whites.
How plaque forms
Just to review what happens during plaque formation. Plaque is actually very soft so you can brush it off with very gentle circular motions. It is prone to picking up extrinsic stains though. If you don't get the plaque off, it turns hard into calculus or what you know as tartar.
The tartar can also pick up staining and sometimes even become black tartar! When left on your teeth untreated, it can lead to gingivitis. That isn't the end either because untreated gingivitis will progress to periodontitis. If you reach that point you may end up needed a deep cleaning and not just a regular teeth cleaning.
You can remove plaque at home by yourself but tartar can't be removed at home. Only a professional dentist or dental hygienist can remove it with a teeth cleaning. Typically it does mean that you could possibly have the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis.
To sum it all up, the orange plaque is typically from poor oral hygiene. If you are seeing it, it means you need to be more diligent with your oral hygiene routine! Don't forget to check in with your dentist for your teeth cleaning twice a year. That will ensure that you get all of that staining off your teeth.