Tooth Discoloration – What Is It and What Should You Know?

Your teeth may feel rough and dull. They can also become sensitive to hot or cold; sometimes they may feel painful to the touch or when you eat or drink something cold or hot. Many times, the teeth can look just normal, but they still don’t feel right when you bite down on something like an apple or a pencil. Sometimes you may not notice any problem with your teeth until they fall out of your mouth.

Most of all, they’re starting to change: white to yellow or some other color, darken or even develop spots.

These are all the circumstances surrounding teeth discoloration.

What Leads To Tooth Discoloration?

There are a number of reasons that teeth can end up with color issues. It could be related to a person’s age, or it’s either intrinsic or extrinsic. Extrinsic means it comes from something the teeth came in contact with, while intrinsic is from the body or teeth.

Actual causes include, but are not limited to:

Aging – Over the years, people will end up seeing their teeth’s enamel slowly but surely wearing down. At that point, a more natural color will emerge.

Diseases – The teeth’s hard surface is covered by a material called dentin which is under enamel. Sometimes, certain conditions will also require treatment. Chemotherapy along with head and neck radiation, for example. Pregnant mothers may also need to deal with infections that can trigger their babies to have tooth discoloration.

Environment – Naturally high levels of fluoride in water and similar excess fluoride from the environment can lead to issues. 

Foods/drinks – Stains can come from coffee, colas, tea, wines, and even certain fruits and vegetables (such as apples or potatoes). 

Medications – Antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline are a prime example. Children 7 years old and below who take those are likely to end up with discolored teeth. That’s because their teeth are still under development. Antihistamines like Benadryl also fall under this.

Mouth rinses and washes – Specifically, the ones that have cetylpyridinium and chlorhexidine.

Poor oral hygiene – Plaque and substances that produce stains should be addressed when brushing, rinsing and flossing is done regularly.

Tobacco use – This goes for both tobacco chewing and smoking cigarettes.

Too much fluoride use – This is when use of oral fluoride supplements, toothpaste, rinses and the like just goes way overboard. Like practically everything else in life, too much will lead to problems.

Genetics are also a key player in teeth discoloration.

Does the Color Change Signify Anything In Particular?

  • Brown – Dark beverages (coffee, tea), tobacco and bad oral hygiene triggering tooth decay can lead to brown teeth.
  • Purple – Easily the most harmless discoloration of all, this comes from red wine staining teeth.
  • Yellow – This is likely a natural tooth color from enamel going away. It often shows up in teeth given the process of aging.


Tooth discoloration is an unattractive occurrence that can also lead to rather uncomfortable teeth. They can be caused by natural occurrences like aging or tobacco use or poor oral hygiene. Sometimes teeth turn yellow from aging, brown from dark beverages or purple from red wine.

Need to get teeth whitening services in Utah? Smart Dental Care can assist you no problem. We’ve got a wide range of services that can cover a number of dental needs. Set an appointment with us today!