Bright, white teeth can make you look younger and boost your self-confidence, while stained teeth are often associated with aging and unhealthy smiles. There are many different reasons, both internal and external, that teeth can discolor . Internal factors involve something going on inside the body or teeth that’s causing the discoloration, while external factors mean lifestyle factors are contributing to the staining. But could tooth discoloration be hereditary?
The answer may surprise you!
There Are Genetic Defects That Can Affect Your Tooth Enamel
There are some inherited genes that can cause your teeth to naturally be more discolored than someone else’s teeth. One of these inherited genetic mutations results in dentinogenesis imperfecta, a disorder in which the teeth can appear grayish blue or yellow brown as the result of abnormal tooth enamel . Teeth may be weaker and more susceptible to dental problems such as fractures or sensitivity. This genetic mutation causes fragile tooth enamel, which can affect the color of your teeth.
Another inherited genetic mutation can result in a disorder called amelogenesis imperfecta, which also affects the tooth enamel. People with this disorder tend to have teeth that are sensitive and discolored, and they may even have problems with their periodontal tissue, or gum tissue .
Most Causes of Tooth Discoloration Aren’t Hereditary
While disorders that affect the tooth enamel—and the color of your teeth—can be inherited, most causes of tooth discoloration aren’t genetic. Other reasons your teeth may be discolored include:
- Tetracycline use. Tetracycline is an antibiotic that can discolor teeth from the inside. If a mother uses tetracycline during pregnancy or a child takes it before the age of eight, the child can have gray, yellow, or brown teeth as a result .
- Dental fluorosis. If children get too much fluoride, their tooth enamel can develop with chalky white spots on it. Unfortunately, dental fluorosis isn’t reversible, but the good news is that it doesn’t weaken tooth enamel and there are treatments that can minimize its appearance!
- Food and drinks. The food and drinks you consume can cause your tooth enamel to stain over time, especially dark-colored foods and drinks such as berries, wine, soy sauce, beets, tea, coffee, and cola.
- Tobacco use. Both smoking and chewing tobacco can cause your teeth to discolor, especially with time and frequency of use, giving teeth a yellow or brownish appearance.
The only way to know for sure what could be causing your tooth discoloration is to visit your dentist!
For All Types of Tooth Discoloration, There Is Treatment!
Although some types of tooth discoloration are more challenging to treat than others, there is treatment for all kinds of tooth discoloration. Whether you have spots on your teeth that are whiter than your normal tooth enamel from fluoride or darker teeth from tetracycline or food staining, your dentist can help you customize a treatment plan to restore brightness to your teeth and your self-confidence!