What Causes Yellow Teeth and How to Treat It


Yellow teeth are not as urgent as other dental issues, but they can cost you self-confidence and make you feel uncomfortable showing your smile. Luckily, you can quickly change this with minor changes to your diet and a few extra minutes of brushing twice a day. You may even benefit from having your dentist change the color of your teeth using special treatments. 

2 Types of Tooth Stains

There are two basic types of tooth staining: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic stains are caused by external factors like food, beverages, tobacco, and medication. These stains affect the outer layer of enamel and are removed by an experienced dentist.

Intrinsic stains tend to penetrate the inner layer of your teeth or dentin. These stains are usually caused by a genetic condition and are very difficult to remove.

2 Causes of Yellow Tone Teeth

Tooth discoloration is caused by the accumulation and interaction of two things. One is bacteria and plaque build-up on your teeth, turning into a yellowish-brown substance called plaque. And two is the mineralization of amino acids, a chemical process that turns the enamel yellow.

Your teeth are naturally a white, translucent color, but they can become yellow over time. As decay and plaque spread under the outer layer of enamel, the inner layer becomes visible and causes discoloration. The enamel will eventually wear down to the dentin, the layer just beneath it, revealing the darker and yellowish dentin.

Factors that are known to increase the yellow tone of your teeth are:

  1. Tobacco: Whether you smoke, chew tobacco, or use snuff, it will affect your teeth. Nicotine, which is chemically related to nicotine, binds to the enamel of your teeth and darkens the color. This is why smokers have stained teeth and lips.
  1. Coffee, tea, and soda: Many people know that drinking these beverages is terrible for your teeth, but they don’t realize why. It’s because when beverages are consumed, the acid in them attacks the teeth. The acid weakens the enamel, causing the teeth to lose their outer shine and become yellow. It also causes the teeth to be more sensitive.
  1. Medication: If you take certain drugs, such as antibiotics, your teeth can become stained. It’s because of the antibiotics that are used to treat infections. Penicillin and amoxicillin are common antibiotics that can cause discoloration.
  1. Genetics: All it takes is one parent to pass on discoloration to a child. If both parents have discolored teeth, the child will have a 50 percent chance of developing discoloration.
  1. Natural Aging: As you age, your teeth naturally become more yellow. This happens because the enamel begins to wear away, exposing the dentin.

2 Ways to Tackle Yellow Teeth

  • Remineralization

The easiest way to remove tooth discoloration is with a remineralization procedure. This is a simple, non-invasive procedure performed at home or in the dentist’s office. Remineralization is usually only needed once or twice but continues to strengthen and whiten your teeth for many years.

  • Tooth Whitening

For more severe discoloration, your dentist may choose to give you a professional whitening treatment. These treatments can either be bleaching gels or whitening trays and are safe and effective. The gels are applied to the teeth and activated by an LED light that removes stains. The whitening trays are fitted to your teeth to apply whitening agents directly to your teeth.


Yellow teeth can be embarrassing, but don’t worry. There are many ways to make your teeth whiter and brighter again. The best way to prevent discoloration is to make a few minor changes in your diet and properly take care of your teeth. A remineralization procedure or professional teeth whitening treatment can help remove stubborn stains and give your smile back.

Cosmetic Dentistry of Murfreesboro, founded by Dr. Greg Nicholson, has been brightening smiles for over 25 years. We have been providing dental crowns and other restorative dental procedures since 1992, attending to our clients’ long-term and immediate needs. If you’re looking for a cosmetic dentist in Murfreesboro, TN, get in touch with us! Let us know how we can help!