Why Do I Have Yellow Teeth?

Before we get into the reasons why teeth appear yellow, we must first understand the natural translucency of our enamel. Despite our obsession with whiter teeth, most healthy teeth have a light-yellow hue. Enamel covers the surface of every tooth and has a natural white color., but, the underlying dentin layer is slightly yellowish. This yellowish hue can be seen through the enamel in almost everyone, but it is more noticeable in those individuals who have naturally thinner or more translucent enamel. A plethora of tooth whitening products have hit the market in recent years, each promising a brighter, whiter smile. And, while most people believe that a whiter smile indicates healthier teeth, this is a myth created by advertising companies, not dentists.

The reasons for yellow teeth or tooth discoloration can be mainly classified into three categories.

  • The first is the natural appearance, which is nothing to be concerned about and comes from the natural process of aging. Our bodies change as we age. Our skin wrinkles, our hair grays, and our teeth darken over time. As you get older, your dentin gets thicker and darker. Your tooth enamel also thins with age, making the dentin underneath it more visible. All of this is perfectly normal. In this case, although your teeth are darker, this does not indicate that they are less healthy. It shows a natural consequence of aging.
  • The second aspect is that your teeth are turning yellow because of health issues, which is cause for concern. Aside from oral health concerns, discolored teeth can indicate a variety of other health issues or diseases. Some diseases can cause your enamel or dentin to change color. For example, discolored teeth are strongly associated with celiac disease. This is a condition in which the immune system reacts to gluten. Green or orange stains may indicate a build-up of bacteria or fungi. This type of discoloration is usually treated with a thorough dental cleaning. If you notice red, black, or brown stains on your teeth, this could be a sign of porphyria, a rare, but treatable, genetic blood disorder.
  • Lastly, one of the causes of tooth discoloration is extrinsic stains. Extrinsic tooth discoloration is caused by exposure to certain foods and drinks, as well as tobacco products, and affects the outermost layer of a tooth, or the enamel. It can be caused by any dark-colored food or drink, including berries, coffee, dark teas, red wine, red pasta sauce, curry spices, and colas.

There are other reasons as well for tooth discoloration, as explained below:

  • The impact of an accident or physical trauma can harm the tooth enamel and damage the interior of the tooth, resulting in discoloration.
  • Certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, can cause tooth discoloration. Tetracycline antibiotic exposure can also stain your teeth.
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco regularly can cause yellow teeth. Tobacco contains nicotine and tar, which can quickly turn your teeth yellow.
  • Excess fluoride can cause fluorosis, which is distinguished by yellow or brownish yellow spots. While low fluoride levels help to strengthen and protect tooth enamel, excessive fluoride can cause dental fluorosis.
  • Some dental materials, such as amalgam restorations, especially those containing silver sulfide, can cause teeth to appear gray and black.
  • Genetics can play a significant role in the transmission of tooth color from one generation to another. You are more likely to inherit yellow teeth if one of your parents has them.
  • Tooth discoloration can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. When you do not brush, floss, or rinse your mouth regularly to remove plaque and tartar, it can speed up the discoloration of your teeth.
  • Bruxism, the involuntary habitual grinding of the teeth, harms tooth enamel to the point of cracking and yellowing. It can cause severe enamel damage and thinness, resulting in tooth yellowing.

Healthy teeth are typically off-white or slightly yellow and, as you age, gradually darken. However, if you notice brown, black, or green stains on your teeth, you may have a chronic condition that requires a thorough dental cleaning. Call Cunning Dental Group at (855) 328-6646 to schedule an appointment today. We will help determine the cause of your tooth discoloration and the best treatment option for you.

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