Five Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Five Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Everyone wants a bright and beautiful smile. Unfortunately, maintaining such a smile can prove difficult. Age, poor health, a lack of regular dental care, and various other factors all contribute to a dull or discolored smile. However, whitening treatments can make a major difference. Whitening may be performed at a technician's office or even via take-home kits.

However, for these treatments to have lasting results, patients must determine the root cause of their not-so-white smiles. Usually, one or more common factors are to blame. Read about five common causes of tooth discoloration below.

Food and Beverages

Certain foods and drinks can cause tooth yellowing or discoloration. Common culprits include coffee, wine, almost any dark-colored drinks, and foods or drinks that are highly acidic. Typically, acidic foods and beverages do not cause staining or yellowing directly. Instead, they weaken the tooth enamel, making the teeth more likely to stain or become discolored.

The more frequently offending foods or drinks are consumed, the worse the staining or yellowing may become. Whitening treatments can remove stains caused by diet, but they are likely to come back unless changes are made.

Lessen the intake of harmful foods and drinks when possible to help improve your smile. Also, take proactive measures, such as using a straw when drinking beverages that are likely to cause staining.


Some medications cause tooth yellowing or discoloration in many people. These may include:

  • Tetracycline
  • Some antihistamines
  • Drugs used in chemotherapy

Speak with a dentist about any medications that are being used. This information can help a dentist to determine the cause of the discoloration. Furthermore, dentists can sometimes provide helpful tips or treatments to reduce the discoloring effects of certain medications and protect the teeth against them.


Smoking negatively affects almost every part of the body, including the teeth. Any cigarette use, even infrequent use or social smoking, can cause the teeth to become yellow. Other forms of tobacco use, such as chewing tobacco, may cause staining as well. What's worse is that tobacco use, in any form, can increase the risk of cancer of the mouth and throat.

Those who use tobacco products must stop as soon as possible. Whitening treatments can remove stains related to tobacco use. However, these stains will return if tobacco use continues and may eventually become harder to remove.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders damage the body greatly. Bulimia, which involves binging and purging, wreaks havoc on the entire mouth. As stomach acid comes into contact with the teeth, it erodes enamel. This weakens the teeth and can make them more susceptible to yellowing and discoloration.

Likewise, people who suffer from anorexia, which involves severely restricting food intake, may not get the nutrients needed for strong, healthy teeth. These weakened teeth stain more easily than stronger teeth.

Individuals with eating disorders must discuss their conditions with their dentists. The dentist can determine if a whitening procedure would be safe and can assess the extent of the resulting damage. Usually, the patient will need to seek treatment for their eating disorder before whitening can have long-term results.

Insufficient Care

Finally, irregular or insufficient dental care causes staining and yellowing of the teeth. At-home care, such as regular brushing and flossing, reduces the risk of discoloration. The same is true of regular dental visits, check-ups, and treatments when necessary.

Those who have neglected self-care, professional care, or both should work with their dentists to create a good care routine. This will make whitening procedures more effective and more likely to produce lasting results.

Tooth whitening can improve your confidence and self-esteem. But, for those results to last, the root cause must be addressed. To learn more or to book a whitening session, contact The Whitening Gals.

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