Yellow Teeth and Other Discoloration: Causes and Treatments

Although yellow-looking stains and other types of tooth discoloration are a completely normal and highly common part of being a living organism with teeth, it can still make a person feel less confident and happy about the appearance of their smile. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of treatments available for removing stains and whitening teeth to create a brighter, more evenly colored smile. 

First, let’s take a look at the different types of tooth discoloration and what can cause each of them. 

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

There are several different reasons why your teeth might be stained, appear yellow, or have other discoloration. These causes all fall into three categories: extrinsic, intrinsic, and age-related. 

Extrinsic Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Extrinsic causes of tooth discoloration include things that exist outside of the body that cause teeth to become discolored. These include:

  • Tobacco use of any kind
  • Highly pigmented foods and starchy foods can create conditions for teeth staining
  • Highly pigmented beverages (coffee, tea, soda, and wine)
  • Dental materials (silver diamine fluoride, amalgam fillings, and even braces)
  • Plaque and tartar buildup as a result of poor oral hygiene or missed dental hygiene appointments

Intrinsic Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Intrinsic tooth discoloration is caused by physiological conditions that occur inside the body. Causes of intrinsic tooth discoloration include:

  • Tooth decay or cavities
  • Genetics
  • Consuming too much fluoride (fluorosis)
  • Certain medications
  • Trauma or injury to a tooth

Age-Related Tooth Discoloration

As we age, our teeth naturally become duller or more yellow in appearance. This is due to the fact that our pearly-white tooth enamel gradually wears away over time, exposing the yellowish dentin located directly behind it. 

Additionally, dentin actually grows as we age, making it larger in comparison to the pulp of the tooth. This reduces the overall transparency and luminescence of our teeth, creating an overall darker-looking appearance. 

Treatments for Tooth Discoloration

When it comes to addressing tooth discoloration, you have plenty of options including professional whitening treatments, cosmetic dentistry treatments, restorative dentistry treatments in addition to at-home whitening treatments that come in the form of toothpaste, gels, foams, strips, pens, mouth rinses, and more. 

The type of treatment that’s most appropriate and that will be most effective depends on the type of discoloration present. An appointment with a dental professional can help you determine the type of tooth discoloration you have and the best way to improve the look of your smile. 

Treatments for Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Other than amalgam fillings or discoloration caused by braces, extrinsic types of tooth discoloration are basically stains on the outside of the teeth. Although they might be stubborn, most extrinsic tooth discoloration can be corrected with a course of professional teeth whitening treatments.

We recommend adding a whitening toothpaste or mouthwash to your daily whitening routine to maintain the brighter look of your smile between professional whitening treatments. You can also keep your smile looking pearly white by doing your best to avoid foods, drinks, and unhealthy habits that cause extrinsic tooth discoloration. 

Treatments for Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Intrinsic and age-related tooth discoloration can be more difficult to address since the discoloration is occurring inside the tooth or directly within the tooth’s composition. Intrinsic tooth discoloration can sometimes be effectively addressed with professional whitening treatments, but sometimes bleaching is not as effective – especially when the discoloration is due to worn enamel or a problem occurring inside the tooth. 

In cases where stains are more difficult to address, dental appliances or fillings are causing discoloration, or when intrinsic discoloration is present, there are a variety of cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments available to eliminate or cover stains.

The following cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments can improve the appearance of your smile: 

Depending on the type of discoloration present on your teeth and your overall smile goals, we can help you determine the course of treatments to best meet your needs and improve the look of your smile. 

Schedule Your Appointment With a More Perfect Smile Today

We offer a variety of restorative and cosmetic dentistry treatments designed to help patients create the smiles of their dreams – from professional teeth whitening to dental crowns, bonding, and veneers.

Whether you hope to eliminate stains, whiten and brighten your smile, or address other aspects of your teeth to create an overall improved look, our dentists, Dr. Murchie and Dr. Brown can help you get a smile that makes you feel happy.

During your consultation, we can talk with you about your smile goals, evaluate the current condition of your teeth and gums, and recommend a comprehensive treatment plan that’s right for you and your budget. 

To learn more or schedule a smile makeover consultation, we invite you to contact us today.