Different Colors of Teeth and Why They Happen


Content reviewed by Dr. Jason James of Londonderry Dental Choice.

You’re likely aware that different foods and drinks can affect your teeth’s color. But teeth can also stain for numerous other reasons — including factors as simple as your age or your genetic disposition.

Understanding the causes behind your tooth discoloration can help you prevent future stains and even reduce the ones you currently have. Here are some of the top reasons for abnormal tooth color along with steps you can take to help.

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

Tooth discoloration can have a vast number of causes. Here are some of the most common reasons the color of your teeth might change:

  • Food and drink: Drinks like coffee, wine and some sodas are well-known for yellowing teeth over time. Even healthy foods like fruits and vegetables can lead to discoloration if you consume them often.
  • Age: As you age, your teeth become thinner and reveal the natural tissue underneath, known as dentin. Dentin is naturally yellowish and becomes darker over time.
  • Lack of hygiene: Failure to brush your teeth, floss, use mouthwash or regularly visit the dentist can lead to tooth decay and discoloration due to plaque buildup.
  • Genetics: Genetics play a significant role in your teeth’s natural color. Some people naturally have bright teeth, while others’ are more yellow.
  • Medications: Several medications — especially antihistamines, antipsychotics and blood pressure medicines — can contribute to abnormal tooth color.
  • Diseases: Numerous tooth diseases and genetic abnormalities may cause tooth discoloration. Likewise, treatments like radiation and chemotherapy could change the color of your tooth enamel.
  • Tobacco: Along with other adverse side effects, smoking or chewing tobacco will cause significant tooth discoloration if it’s used long-term.

What Colors Might You See on Your Teeth?

The causes listed above can have varying effects on the color of your tooth enamel. The following are some of the most common colors and their typical causes:

  • Single dark tooth: Having only one dark tooth may result from past tooth trauma. Iron from the blood can saturate the tooth and make it discolored, while uneven surfaces due to tooth trauma can encourage yellowing.
  • White spots: White spots scattered across the teeth can be an early sign of cavities as the tooth loses calcium during the decalcification process. It might also result from dental fluorosis — a disorder caused by ingesting too much fluoride as a child.
  • Yellowish brown: Dark yellow teeth often result from tobacco intake. While nicotine on its own is colorless, it turns yellow when it’s mixed with oxygen. The color then stains the teeth when they’re exposed to the substance long-term.
  • Yellow: Yellow teeth are common among adults. This color can result from age, a lack of hygiene, genetics and numerous other causes.
  • Amber, grey or purple: If your teeth have a purple, grey or amber tint, you might have a rare tooth development condition known as dentinogenesis imperfecta.

What Can You Do About an Abnormal Tooth Color?

Fortunately, you can take multiple steps toward whitening your smile. To mitigate the effects of tooth discoloration, you can:

  • Stop smoking or drinking: Reduce or completely stop your intake of tobacco, soda, wine and other substances that often cause discoloration.
  • Maintain proper dental hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and visit a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
  • Consider getting veneers: People with deeply stained teeth sometimes use veneers — a thin covering placed on top of the natural tooth — to cover the discoloration. They look similar to natural teeth. However, keep in mind that your dentist might need to remove a healthy part of the tooth to apply the veneer properly.
  • Use a tooth whitener: Over-the-counter tooth whiteners have surged in popularity. You can also talk to your dentist about stronger in-office whitening treatments.

Make an Appointment With Dental Choice

Regular dental visits are an essential part of your dental health. If you’d like to schedule a dental check-up or a tooth whitening appointment, contact Dental Choice. We can walk you through your options and help you learn more about your tooth discoloration.




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