Common Causes of Discoloration

Discolored teeth can be a source of embarrassment and self-consciousness for many individuals. Many factors can cause tooth discoloration, including lifestyle habits, genetics, and certain medical conditions. Understanding the common causes of tooth discoloration can help individuals take preventive measures and seek appropriate treatment. 

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Lifestyle Habits

One of the most common causes of tooth discoloration is lifestyle habits, including smoking and tobacco use. For example, the nicotine and tar in tobacco products can cause brownish stains that can be challenging to remove. Even with regular oral hygiene, tobacco can cause permanent discoloration. In addition, tobacco products can increase the amount of plaque that develops in your mouth, creating many more dental issues. Also, the increase of plaque can further yellow your teeth and cause tooth decay. 

Poor Dental Hygiene

Poor dental hygiene can also contribute to tooth discoloration. For example, failure to brush and floss regularly can lead to a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. When plaque builds, it can cause the teeth to turn yellow. Additionally, poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, which can also affect the color of the teeth.


Genetics can also play a role in tooth discoloration. For example, some individuals are born with naturally thin enamel, which can cause teeth to appear more yellowish. Similarly, specific individuals may have genetic variations that cause their teeth to appear more grayish or bluish. Unfortunately, thin enamel can create many other dental concerns, including an increased risk for cavities. 


Certain medications can also cause tooth discoloration as a side effect. For example, antibiotics can cause yellowing of the teeth when taken during childhood. Antipsychotic drugs, antihistamines, and some high blood pressure medications can cause tooth discoloration. Along with medications, some medical procedures can create tooth discoloration. Chemotherapy and radiation can damage the enamel, creating discoloration in your teeth. 

Food and Drinks

Food and drinks are common causes of tooth discoloration. Dark-colored foods and drinks, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and berries, can stain teeth over time. Unfortunately, your beloved morning and evening drinks can ruin the whiteness of your smile. In addition, acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and soda, can cause discoloration by removing the teeth’ enamel.


Trauma to the teeth can also cause discoloration. For example, if a tooth is injured, it may produce more dentin in response to it, making it appear darker. Another way a dental injury can damage the color of your teeth is if there is severe bleeding within the tooth. This can create a dark stain on the surface of the teeth. Additionally, if a tooth is knocked out and reimplanted, it may discolor over time.

Lack of Regular Dental Care

If you don’t go to the dentist regularly, you will likely have discolored teeth. This is because your dentist can typically identify the causes of your discolored teeth to help you avoid them. Additionally, regular teeth cleaning can help remove surface stains, keeping your teeth brighter

Author: Dr. Desbordes