The foods we eat, the beverages we drink and age itself work against our teeth, causing discoloration over time. Teeth can become yellow due to stains — both deep and surface-level — as well as other causes that aren't always under our control. Whether the discoloration is due to staining or other factors, learn how to get rid of yellow teeth through over-the-counter products and professional whitening from the dentist.
- Food and Drinks
Coffee, tea and wine are all major causes of tooth discoloration due to the their dark colors. In addition, acidic drinks like soda, and certain fruits and vegetables can cause yellow teeth.
Tobacco products, like cigarettes, contain teeth-staining particles that stick in the microscopic ridges of tooth enamel. The particles build up and stain the teeth, with discolorations becoming darker and more difficult to remove over time.
- Thin Enamel
Although coffee and cigarettes leave stains on your teeth, thin tooth enamel also makes teeth look yellow. Tooth enamel is the hard surface of your teeth, and underneath it is a pale brown substance called dentin. Thick enamel looks white, but thin enamel allows dentin tones to show through, making teeth look yellow. Enamel naturally wears thin as people age, but acids from foods and drinks also thin the enamel by eroding its surface.
- Dry Mouth
Saliva neutralizes acid and washes it away, but people suffering from dry mouth miss out on this protective effect. For example, when people breathe through their mouths, it can prevent saliva from moisturizing the mouth — putting them at risk of developing thin tooth enamel.
Other causes of yellow teeth include taking antibiotics and other medications. Excessive fluoride intake in young children can cause yellow-stained adult teeth later on. More often, though, antibiotics and high fluoride levels cause blotching rather than an overall yellow tone to the teeth.
And sometimes, yellow teeth are just genetic.