Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow Over Time?

Written by robert kohnke
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Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow Over Time?
White teeth are not easy to maintain when so many factors are working against you. (Teeth and Mouth image by Sujit Mahapatra from Fotolia.com)

Yellowing of the teeth is something everyone faces and something nearly all of us are concerned about. Sadly, yellow teeth are basically inevitable. Time, food and our environment all lead to the yellowing of our teeth, and there is little any of us can do to prevent this inevitability. Do not give up hope, though, for there are a few measures you can take to slow this fact of life.

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Factors

One of the leading causes of teeth yellowing is the things that we put in our mouths. Coffee and tea are two major stain-causing drinks, as is cola. Tobacco, both chewing and smoking, can lead to the yellowing of teeth. Finally, the way we brush our teeth and how often we brush and floss can lead to yellow teeth. Frequent brushing and flossing are better for you.

Health

There are several diseases that can cause teeth to turn yellow, black or brown. These diseases detrimentally affect the enamel--the hard surface of teeth--or the dentin, the material under the enamel. When either of these materials is altered, it affects the color of your teeth. Also, some forms of chemotherapy, such as head radiation, can lead to discolored teeth.

Medications

There are two widely used drugs known to discolor the teeth of children who are still developing: tetracycline and doxycycline. Certain mouth rinses and washes, such as those containing chlorhexidine and cetylperidinium, also lead to yellow teeth. Antihistamines, blood-pressure medications and some antipsychotics have been known to discolor teeth.

Nature

Sadly, time itself is working against you. The older you get, the more of the outer enamel gets worn away. As this happens, the dentin, which is naturally yellow, starts to show. Also, some people are born with stronger or thicker enamel, thanks to their genetics.

Chemicals

Fluoride can cause tooth discoloration. Fluoride can be found in water, though the levels are supposed to stay low enough that this is not a concern. Fluoride treatments, fluoride toothpastes and fluoride supplements can all lead to tooth discoloration. Some dental materials, such as those containing silver sulfide, can cause your teeth to appear gray or black.

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