Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?

Maybe you’ve been dealing with yellow teeth for a while or maybe you were surprised to recently look in the mirror and see that your teeth have taken on a distinctly yellowish tint. Now how did that happen? There are a number of different factors that could’ve caused the shade you’re seeing. Everyone’s situation is unique, but here are some of the most common reasons why teeth turn yellow:

  1. Extrinsic Stains
  2. Not all stains are alike. One group of stains is referred to as extrinsic stains, which means they affect the outside part of teeth, also known as the enamel. Since these stains are on the surface, they can be more easily removed with daily teeth brushing and dental cleanings.

    Culprits of extrinsic stains include things such as tobacco, coffee, tea, red wine, berries, balsamic vinegar, and spaghetti sauce. One way to think about it is foods and drinks that could stain your clothes usually are likely to stain your teeth. Moreover, in certain areas, high levels of iron in the drinking water can discolor teeth. And, of course, poor oral hygiene will also cause these surface-level stains and yellowing.

    Aerial view of a white mug holding dark brown frothy coffee that can cause extrinsic stains and yellow teeth

  3. Intrinsic Stains
  4. The other group of stains are called intrinsic stains. With these, the staining has occurred in the inner part of a tooth, called the dentin. Since these are further inside of a tooth, they require professional teeth whitening to treat.

    Certain medications and medical treatments can cause these intrinsic stains. But we don’t recommend quitting your prescribed medication cold turkey! Consult with your prescribing physician to learn whether a potential side effect of your medication is tooth discoloration. Ask for their professional recommendation about switching to a different medication that won’t affect your teeth.

    A glass of water next to a little cluster of medications that can cause yellow teeth

  5. Enamel Thinning
  6. Another reason that your teeth might turn yellow is weakening of your enamel. Though the inevitable process of aging, it’s common for your enamel to thin due to natural wear and tear. This thinning reveals more of the inner, yellowish dentin below the enamel. Weak and thin enamel can also be caused by nighttime teeth grinding. If you grind or clench your teeth during sleep, ask us about a custom-fitted nightguard!

Are You Interested in a Whiter Smiler?

If you need help pinpointing why your teeth are turning yellow, or if you’d like to discuss teeth whitening options, contact our team at Helotes Family Dentistry today!

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Helotes Family Dentistry

Helotes Family Dentistry