The Reasons for Yellowed or Discolored Teeth

A common procedure available at the average dentist’s office is teeth whitening, and there are several reasons a patient’s teeth may become discolored over time. Issues of genetics and different behaviors can influence the rate at which a person’s teeth become yellowed as he or she ages.

Because genetics may be a factor, adopting certain habits may help one patient avoid yellow teeth longer than another patient who is genetically predisposed to developing tooth stains. When patients book an appointment for teeth whitening in San Diego, it is usually for one of the following three reasons.

Extrinsic  Discoloration of the Teeth

The outer layer of the teeth is covered in a substance called enamel, and this material may become stained, discolored, or yellow because of external influences like food and drink. Dark colored soda, red wine, coffee, and various types of alcohol may cause extrinsic stains to develop. 
Smoking may also cause yellowing of the teeth by staining the enamel, and it’s one of the reasons smokers give up the habit. Fortunately, changing habits by avoiding drinks or foods that may stain the teeth is something anyone can accomplish.

Intrinsic Yellowing of the Teeth

Within the teeth, a substance called dentin may darken or experience yellowing over time. Many reasons exist for this type of discoloration, including a high exposure to fluoride as a child, using tetracycline antibiotics before the age of eight, or damaging a tooth during childhood.

There is also a genetic condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta. This condition can mean a patient develops gray, purple, or even amber discolorations of the teeth. Trauma to a permanent tooth that results in internal bleeding can also cause a tooth to change color.

Yellow Teeth Due to Age

Despite healthy habits and good genetics, virtually everyone’s teeth become somewhat discolored during the aging process. Teeth naturally wear down over time, and thinner enamel can mean discolored teeth as the inner layer of the tooth becomes visible. Natural discoloration of the dentin can show up as the enamel wears away with age.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for the average person to damage his or her teeth at least a few times over many decades, and a small chip may eventually lead to discolored teeth. The cumulative effects of worn-down enamel, damaged teeth, and eating the wrong foods mean very few people of advanced age can avoid yellowed or stained teeth.
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