Top Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Jul 21, 2019 — by Cristin Dowd, DDS
Tags: Teeth Whitening

Before and after image of teeth whiteningWhen it comes to staining, there are several cosmetic dentistry treatments that can improve the appearance of the smile, including teeth whitening, bonding, or porcelain veneers. But why does discoloration occur in the first place? There are several factors that can contribute to staining.

Here, our team at Signature Smiles in Woodinville, WA, discusses some of the top causes of tooth discoloration.

Poor Oral Hygiene

This one should not come as a surprise. It is no secret that neglecting your oral health can cause dental problems. When plaque deposits are not routinely removed from the surfaces of the teeth, staining becomes much more likely. More importantly, poor oral hygiene results in an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. This is why home care and regular dental visits are so important.

Certain Foods and Drinks

Dark-colored foods and beverages can lead to staining as well. Coffee, tea, red wine, and colas all contribute to the problem, as do tomato sauce, soy sauce, and berries. To reduce the risk of discoloration, consume these foods and drinks in moderation and practice good oral hygiene. If staining has already occurred, teeth whitening can help restore your smile to its original beauty.

Tobacco Products

In addition to taking a toll on your lungs and overall health, tobacco use also yellows the teeth. This goes for cigarettes and cigars as well as smokeless tobacco. Kicking the habit for good can help you look and feel better. If you need help quitting, ask our team in Woodinville for resources. We can help.

Diseases or Disorders

Some medical conditions can affect the tooth enamel and lead to a yellowed or stained appearance. Some of these include:

  • Celiac disease
  • Liver disease
  • Rickets
  • Eating disorders
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Metabolic diseases

Depending on the type of discoloration, teeth whitening may not address the problem. However, there are other cosmetic dentistry treatments that can mask staining, such as bonding or porcelain veneers.

Certain Medications

There are a number of medications on the market that can contribute to tooth discoloration. For example, you may be more prone to staining if you use:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Antihistamines
  • Drugs for high blood pressure
  • Tetracycline or doxycycline (only when given to children younger than eight years old)
  • Chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium rinses
  • Chemotherapy or radiation to the head and neck


As time goes on, tooth enamel wears thin. The erosion exposes the underlying dentin, which is yellow in color. This can give the appearance of staining. Because teeth whitening does not work on this type of discoloration, we may recommend bonding or veneers to address the problem. These treatments have proven extremely successful and they deliver dramatic results.

Trauma or Injury

Chips or cracks not only weaken a tooth, but they can also make it more discolored. Furthermore, trauma sustained from automobile accidents, sporting injuries, or similar events can cause bleeding inside the tooth. When blood becomes trapped in this manner, it can cause the tooth to darken in appearance.


Just like your overall health, your oral health can be affected by genetics. Some people are lucky enough to be born with plenty of natural tooth enamel, others not so much. Those with naturally thin enamel have a higher risk for tooth discoloration.

Contact Signature Smiles Today

No matter what the cause, cosmetic dentistry treatments can help address tooth discoloration. To learn more about the services we offer at Signature Smiles, schedule a visit at our Woodinville practice. Contact us online or by calling (425) 489-1177.

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