What Can Cause Tooth Discoloration?

May 20, 2021 | General Dentist

Having a healthy, beautiful smile is important. The teeth are often one of the first things people notice when meeting someone new. Stained, discolored teeth can inhibit your smile and reduce your self-confidence. Many different things – including common daily habits – can cause tooth discoloration. Preventing the problem before it occurs is much easier than seeking solutions later. If your teeth are yellow, brown, gray, black or have vivid white spots, contact the professionals at Dental on Central for solutions to save your smile.

Three Types of Discoloration

There are three different types of discolored teeth. Age-related discoloration happens naturally as teeth age, weaken and stain over time. Intrinsic discoloration results from conditions inside the teeth themselves or something occurring within the body. Extrinsic discoloration is staining from exposure to something that comes in contact with the teeth regularly enough to stain. Learning more about the type of discoloration you have can help you find the right solution.

Age-Related Discoloration

As you grow older, the years of wear and tear on your teeth cause their white, protective enamel to slowly thin and weaken. This lets the yellow-colored pulp of the tooth’s center become more visible, casting a yellowish or grayish look on the teeth. This, combined with staining from years of natural exposure to food and drinks like coffee, tea and wine, will cause stains to build up over time.

Intrinsic Discoloration

Intrinsic discoloration occurs due to a condition in the body or below the surface of the tooth. Medications, including certain antibiotics, antihistamines, antihypertensives and antipsychotic drugs all contribute to tooth discoloration. Chemotherapy and certain types of infections may also lead to discolored teeth. Finally, certain illnesses, overexposure to fluoride during tooth development, and trauma to the teeth from accidents or injuries can also be intrinsic causes of tooth discoloration.

Extrinsic Discoloration

Extrinsic discoloration is the most preventable cause of discolored teeth. Teeth become stained over time due to exposure to certain foods and beverages. Common culprits are coffee, tea and wine, which contain tannins – common causes of stains. The same staining quality these drinks have that ruin clothing and carpets can also discolor teeth.

The dyes used in many sodas, including Coca-Cola, can also discolor your teeth over time. Even clear, carbonated beverages or sparkling water may be quietly causing tooth staining. The acidic nature of carbonated drinks can eventually thin tooth enamel, making the teeth more likely to stain. Certain foods can contribute to extrinsic discoloration, as well, including:

  • Tomato sauce. It contains natural, rich red pigments that can eventually stain your teeth.
  • The yellow color of curry also has the power to stain teeth.
  • The same oxidizing chemical that causes browning in peeled apples can bind to your enamel and eventually darken your teeth.
  • Potatoes have a similar chemical for oxidation. The same natural chemical that sometimes causes cooked potatoes to turn gray can discolor the teeth.

Other common culinary culprits are soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, beets and berries. Even foods that seem harmless, such as crisp white apples or potatoes, can cause tooth discoloration over time. Consistently rinsing out your mouth by drinking and swishing water around after eating these foods can protect your teeth from stains.

Discolored Teeth? We Can Help

You cannot be expected to avoid everything that can cause tooth discoloration. If you have this problem, solutions are available. You can keep your smile healthy and happy with regular dental cleanings and checkups. Routine professional cleanings can remove stubborn stains and help prevent staining overall. You can also consider professional teeth whitening for a beautiful, bright smile. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, contact us to speak to a dentist about possible solutions.