Causes of Yellow Teeth and Ways to Prevent It

Causes of Yellow Teeth and Ways to Prevent It

Mar 4, 2024

While yellow teeth may not be a pressing concern, unless caused by damage or injury, numerous individuals desire a more radiant and whiter smile. Yellow teeth are a common problem, often surrounded by uncertainty, and can lead to considerable discomfort and self-doubt. Contrary to popular belief, the discoloration is not solely caused by inadequate dental hygiene. Various factors contribute to this condition, and comprehending them can aid in its prevention and treatment.

Understanding Natural Tooth Color

It’s important to note that the natural color of teeth varies from person to person, and it also changes with age. Teeth naturally come in a variety of shades including reddish-brown, reddish-yellow, grey, and reddish-grey. The intensity of these colors can range from light to dark. Some people may have naturally yellowish teeth, which might be a genetic trait inherited from their parents.

Anatomy of a Tooth

To understand the causes of tooth discoloration, it’s crucial to know the basic anatomy of a tooth. A tooth comprises an outer layer known as enamel, and beneath it, a substance called dentine. Dentine is naturally yellow to brownish in color, and it becomes visible when the enamel is thin or wears off. The thick enamel layer usually covers up the dentine but doesn’t necessarily block all stains that accumulate on the tooth surface.

Factors that lead to Yellow Teeth

Various factors can contribute to teeth yellowing, with some within your control and others beyond it. Here are the common causes:

  • Genetic
    Just as the color of your eyes and hair, the color of your teeth can be influenced by your genetic makeup. Therefore, if your parents have yellowish teeth, there is a possibility that you might have a similar tooth color.
  • Aging
    Aging is a natural process that can lead to yellow teeth. Over time, the tooth’s outer layer of enamel gets worn away due to the process of chewing and exposure to acids from food and drink, exposing the naturally yellow dentin underneath.
  • Smoking
    Smoking is a significant contributor to yellow teeth. The nicotine present in tobacco products leaves yellowish or brownish surface stains on your teeth, giving them a discolored appearance.
  • Diet
    The food and drinks you consume can have a significant impact on the color of your teeth. Certain foods and beverages like coffee, tea, red and white wine, sodas, and certain fruits and vegetables (like apples, tomatoes, and berries) contain pigments that can cling to the tooth enamel and cause staining.
  • Medications
    Certain medicines, including tetracycline antibiotics, can cause tooth discoloration, particularly in children under the age of 8 and pregnant women in their second half of pregnancy. These antibiotics can stain the teeth when they’re developing, resulting in permanent discoloration.
  • Excessive Fluoride
    Although fluoride is good for teeth, excessive fluoride can lead to a condition known as fluorosis, which can cause white, yellow, or brownish-yellow spots on teeth. Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition caused by ingesting too much fluoride at a young age.
  • Accidents or Trauma
    Physical trauma or accidents can damage the tooth’s interior, leading to discoloration. This discoloration may be indicative of internal bleeding that requires professional attention.
  • Teeth Grinding
    Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a habit that some people develop, particularly when they’re stressed. This habit can damage your tooth enamel, causing it to crack and yellow over time.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene
    Poor oral hygiene practices such as not brushing and flossing regularly or not using an antibacterial mouthwash can lead to plaque buildup, which in turn can hasten teeth discoloration.

Treatments for Yellow Teeth

Yellow teeth can be addressed through various methods, including natural remedies and professional dental treatments.

  • Natural Remedies
    Natural remedies include oil pulling with coconut oil, using baking soda, and applying hydrogen peroxide. These methods can help remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth, thereby reducing tooth discoloration. However, while these remedies can help to some extent, they might not be sufficient for severe cases of tooth discoloration.
  • Over the counter Teeth Whitening Products
    Over-the-counter teeth whitening products such as whitening strips, toothpaste, and do-it-yourself bleaching trays can also be used. However, caution should be exercised when using these products to avoid damaging your enamel.
  • Professional Dental Treatments
    If natural remedies are not effective, professional dental treatments can be sought. These include teeth whitening procedures, dental bonding, porcelain veneers, and dental crowns. Your dentist can guide you on the best treatment option based on the cause and severity of your tooth discoloration.

Strategies to Prevent Yellow Teeth

Prevention is always better than cure. Thus, here are some preventive measures to avoid tooth discoloration.

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
    Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly can help prevent plaque buildup and stain producing substances.
  • Reduce Staining Foods and Drinks
    Limiting the consumption of foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, and wine, can help prevent tooth discoloration.
  • Avoid Smoking
    Smoking not only stains your teeth but also poses numerous health risks. Therefore, quitting smoking can help prevent tooth discoloration and improve your overall health.
  • Regular Dental Check Ups
    Regular dental check ups are crucial in maintaining oral health and preventing yellow teeth. These check ups allow your dentist to monitor the health of your teeth and gums and provide professional cleanings.  They can also spot early signs of problems and intervene before they become more serious.

    These check-ups are typically included in your healthcare plan, so make sure to utilise this benefit.

Yellow Teeth Misconceptions

There are several misconceptions surrounding yellow teeth. One is that yellow teeth are always a sign of poor dental hygiene. While poor oral care can contribute to discolouration, as we’ve seen, there are several other factors at play, including age, certain medications, and genetic factors.

Another common misconception is that whitening treatments damage your teeth. While overuse of whitening products can cause sensitivity and gum irritation, when used correctly and under the supervision of a dentist, these treatments are safe and effective.


Ultimately, although the discoloration of teeth may worry certain individuals, it is crucial to bear in mind that it is a widespread issue that can be effectively addressed through proper care and treatment. Irrespective of the underlying factors, upholding excellent oral hygiene practices and embracing a healthy lifestyle can significantly contribute to the preservation of your radiant perfect smile.