As we age, our teeth can naturally begin to take on a more yellowish hue. Our teeth are
naturally a shade of white, but with time and wear, teeth can begin to look a little less than
The causes of tooth discoloration are numerous and may be influenced by an internal or
external factor. Here, we’ll see how tooth enamel can be influenced by several elements to
make your teeth turn an unattractive yellow color.
One external factor affecting tooth color is certain foods and drinks. Tooth enamel is porous
and can easily be stained, although fortunately, many of these stains are just on the surface and
can be removed through regular brushings and professional teeth cleanings.
Coffee, tea, and wine are the worst offenders for making teeth turn a yellow or brownish color,
but in truth, any food that has a deep hue has the potential to stain your teeth. These surprising
tooth stainers include berries, beets, and tomatoes.
Acidic foods and drinks are also culprits when it comes to staining teeth. The acid in foods such
as lemons and drinks such as soda can wear away the tooth enamel, making it easier for
staining to occur and also allowing the yellowish color of your dentin—the softer layer beneath
your tooth enamel—to come through.
Not Getting Professional Cleanings
Since professional cleanings can remove most surface stains, skipping those dental
appointments can cause buildup of stains and plaque which can result in teeth appearing more
yellow. In addition, if you’re not brushing and flossing regularly at home, you’re allowing your
teeth to accumulate more stains, plaque, and bacteria that can affect your tooth color.
Getting a professional teeth cleaning at least once a year or as recommended by your dentist
can help prevent the build-up of surface stains to prevent your teeth from turning yellow. If you
have deeper stains, you dentist may suggest a professional whitening to help remove them.
Antibiotics During Tooth Formation
Your tooth discoloration may be coming from an internal source—for instance, when the dentin turns a brownish yellow color. This typically happens in children who take antibiotics while their teeth are still developing, namely the antibiotics tetracycline or doxycycline.
If you had antibiotics younger than age 8, you may have teeth that are naturally darker. In
addition, women who take antibiotics during their second trimester of pregnancy and later can
cause their child to have discolored or darker teeth.
Genetics may also affect your tooth color. You may naturally have tooth enamel that’s thinner,
which can allow the dentin to show through. This can not only make for weaker teeth that are
susceptible to sensitivity and decay, but can also cause teeth to have a yellower appearance.
People who have naturally thicker and stronger tooth enamel may have brighter and healthier
teeth. Since tooth enamel can be affected by oral care habits and the foods we eat, genetics is
only partially responsible in many cases. Your dentist can help you have a stronger, whiter
Are you worried about your teeth turning yellow? When teeth begin to take on a more
yellowish appearance, it’s time to seek professional help. Contact your dentist today to learn
how you can make teeth appear brighter and whiter in just a few simple steps!