What Causes Teeth to Lose Their Whiteness?

Jul 01, 2023
What Causes Teeth to Lose Their Whiteness?
You brush your teeth twice a day. You visit your dentist twice a year. And yet, your teeth have lost the brilliance that you used to take for granted. They’re dingy. Dull. Yellow. Or worse. What happened? Can you get your whiteness back?

Yellow and dull teeth seem to go hand-in-hand with aging. Looking back at color movies from the 1970s and 1980s — before professional teeth whitening and veneers were widespread — even movie stars had yellow teeth.

Of course, aging isn’t the only factor behind dull or stained teeth. Sometimes young people and even kids have discolored teeth. 

At Miracle Smile Dental in Aubrey, Texas, our expert team helps you keep your teeth white and restore them when they lose brilliance. Our expert dentist Nisha Modi, DMD, offers professional teeth whitening with Zoom!®. You can whiten your teeth by up to eight shades in less than an hour.

But why are your teeth less than white and brilliant? The following are the most common reasons teeth lose their whiteness and luster.

Your enamel erodes

Over time, the acids you consume in foods and beverages wear down the protective enamel on the surface of your teeth. Your enamel is your tooth’s first-line protection against the germs that cause cavities. But it also covers and masks the inner part of your tooth called the dentin.

Unlike the surface of your tooth, the inner dentin isn’t white or bright. Instead, it’s a dull yellowish brown. As the enamel thins out, it can no longer hide the faded yellow of the dentin. Your teeth no longer look bright and white. 

Unfortunately, once your enamel has eroded, there’s no way to bring it back. However, professional teeth whitening not only breaks up the stains on the surface of your teeth, but it also breaks up the yellowish coloring inside your dentin to give your teeth a bright, white brilliance.

Beverages and food stain your teeth

A common reason for discolored teeth is stains occurring because of the foods and beverages you consume. Anything that’s highly colored is a potential staining agent. Some common ones include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Cola
  • Blueberries
  • Red wine
  • Tomatoes
  • Sports drinks
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Curry
  • Turmeric

Even light-colored beverages can wreak havoc on your teeth due to their high acid content. Culprits include white wine and sodas or sports drinks with artificial ingredients. Rinse your mouth directly after consuming highly acidic or colored foods and beverages. 

You smoke or chew tobacco

Tobacco use is one of the worst habits for your teeth (and health). Whether you smoke it or chew it, tobacco is highly staining. While aging and food stains usually turn your teeth yellow or slightly gray, tobacco turns them brown.

Smoking is also bad for your gums because it dehydrates them. Dehydrated gums increase your risk for tooth loss.

Your teeth suffered trauma

If you suffered a blow to the mouth from a collision or fall, your teeth may be damaged, too. The enamel may have cracked, and the inner nerves diminished.

Even grinding your teeth at night — an unconscious habit called bruxism — could damage your enamel. If we see evidence of bruxism during your biannual exams, we recommend using a night guard to keep your teeth safe.

Antibiotics or other chemicals alter your teeth

The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline damage teeth that are still in the development stage. Children who have grayish-looking permanent teeth may have suffered damage from tetracycline.

Too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration, known as fluorosis. Even certain mouthwashes, medications, and chemotherapy affects your tooth color.

You are not cleaning your teeth properly

Poor dental hygiene also can cause tooth stains. It’s important to brush your teeth at least twice daily to remove the sticky film known as plaque that holds bacteria to the surface of your teeth, increasing your risk for cavities, pitting, and discoloration.

Even if you brush twice daily and floss once daily, you can’t remove the hardened version of plaque, known as tartar, from your teeth. However, during your biannual dental exam and cleaning, we use special tools to remove plaque and polish away stains.

Teeth whitening restores your gleam

As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, you can probably regain white, gleaming teeth. Professional teeth whitening has come a long way since the ancient Egyptians mixed ground pumice with vinegar to take stains off teeth 4,000 years ago.

In the comfort of our office, we can transform your smile with a Zoom session that removes stains with a medical-grade peroxide gel. We can lighten your teeth In less than an hour by up to eight shades. We may also provide you with an at-home kit for touch-ups between professional whitening sessions.

Whatever stains your teeth, you don’t have to live with the result. Call our friendly staff at 469-765-3567 for your professional teeth whitening consultation today, or use our convenient online scheduling tool