Unfortunately, tooth discoloration is a natural part of life. Tooth discoloration typically happens gradually, so you might not even notice it at first. Then one day, you look in the mirror and realize your teeth appear darker and more dull.
There are three main types of tooth discoloration:
- Extrinsic staining is caused by substances that come in contact with your teeth. These are shallow stains, and are relatively easy to remove.
- Intrinsic staining is due to something inside your teeth or body. These deep stains are much more difficult to remove.
- Worn enamel is typically caused by age. As your enamel wears away, it exposes the second layer of your teeth. This is your dentin, which is yellowish in color. You cannot change the color of your dentin.
This article will explain the possible causes of yellow teeth, tips for preventing tooth discoloration, and the best ways to whiten discolored teeth.
Learn about the safest ways to whiten your teeth.
10 Causes of Yellow Teeth
There are several reasons your teeth become discolored, including:
1. Certain Foods and Beverages
Several of your favorite foods that are high in tannins, pigmentation, or acids can change the color of your teeth. Coffee, tea, red wine, soda, tomato sauces, curries, berries, apples, potatoes, and beets are just some of these foods and drinks that can stain teeth.
2. Sugar and Simple Carbohydrates in Your Diet
Sugary and high-carb foods can get into your enamel and cause teeth staining. Try to avoid these foods or brush your teeth immediately after consuming them. Sugary foods can also contribute to tooth decay, which gives the tooth a brown or yellow color.
3. Tobacco Use
Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco are common causes of extrinsic discoloration. These stains are some of the toughest to remove, but they can be managed.
Over time, the outer enamel of your teeth will wear away. This exposes the yellow layer of dentin in your tooth. Stains also build up on your teeth due to the other extrinsic factors on this list.
5. Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is a top cause of yellowing teeth, tooth decay, and plaque buildup. Plaque can cause your teeth to appear darker and not smooth. Brushing twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash can help prevent some (but not all) teeth stains and keep your adult teeth healthy.
Certain diseases and infections can affect the enamel or dentin of your teeth. Chronic dry mouth is also a common cause of yellow teeth. Treatments for illnesses, such as radiation and chemotherapy, are also known to discolor your teeth.
7. Certain Medications or Mouthwashes
Several medications are known to discolor teeth. Antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline discolor children’s teeth. Antihistamines like Benadryl, drugs for high blood pressure, and antipsychotic medications can also cause discoloration. Mouth rinses that contain chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride are also known to cause yellow or brown teeth.
8. Mouth Trauma
Mouth injuries can cause serious damage. If your enamel or dentin is disturbed, it can cause tooth discoloration. If your mouth becomes infected, that infection can also cause staining.
9. Over Fluoridation
If the fluoride levels in your water is too high, or if you overuse fluoride-containing treatments, your teeth may become stained or mottled looking.
10. Dental Materials
Certain materials used in dental treatments can turn your teeth gray or black. Materials containing silver sulfide are especially prone to this.
How to Prevent Tooth Discoloration
Age-related yellowing is very difficult to prevent. However, there are certain steps you can take to slow down and prevent tooth discoloration.
Here are six tips to help keep your teeth healthy and your smile pearly white:
1. A Good Oral Hygiene Routine
Establishing a daily routine is the best way to take care of your teeth. Be sure to:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day (once before breakfast and once before bed)
- Floss at least once a day
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash once a day
These simple steps are the best preventative steps you can take for yourself to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
2. Quit Smoking (Or at least Cut Back)
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your mouth and overall health. Cutting this habit out will greatly improve your quality of life, and help keep a bright smile on your face.
3. A Healthy Diet
Cutting out foods and drinks that are high in sugar, carbs, acid, tannins, and carbonation can help keep your teeth whiter longer. It’s best to cut out or reduce coffee, tea, and red wine consumption.
4. Drink With a Straw
This is a simple trick to reduce the amount of sugary or dark liquids that come in contact with the visible surfaces of your front teeth. Be sure to use reusable straws to help protect the environment.
5. Avoid Dry Mouth
Chronic dry mouth can cause yellow teeth. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and tobacco, which can dehydrate your mouth. If your dry mouth is persistent, schedule an appointment with your dentist for professional medical advice.
6. Regular Dentist Appointments
Everyone should see their dentist twice a year. Regular dental cleanings help prevent tooth stains and protect your tooth coloration. They will also give you a check-up to test for any underlying dental conditions.
See NewMouth’s top 10 teeth whitening products of 2022.
Best Ways to Whiten Yellow Teeth
If your teeth have already started to discolor, you’re not alone. Many people are unhappy with the color of their teeth. Fortunately, most intrinsic and extrinsic staining can be treated.
Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the primary components of most whitening treatments. They are natural and safe teeth bleaching agents that can remove both intrinsic and extrinsic stains. The two substances produce virtually identical results.1, 2, 3
There are several teeth whitening options to help get rid of yellow teeth stains:
1. At-Home LED Kits
At-home teeth whitening has never been more popular. It is an effective and affordable alternative to costly professional bleaching treatments. And LED whitening kits are one of the top options.
These kits come with a tray that has an LED light and a whitening gel or serum. You apply the gel to your teeth and place the LED light tray over them. Then apply the light for the directed amount of time.
At-home LED whitening kits are safe and effective as long as they are used as directed. The most common side effect is tooth sensitivity. They can also cause gum irritation if the gel comes in contact with your gum line. Do not use them for longer times or more frequently than directed.
NewMouth recommends LED kits as the best at-home teeth whitening treatment. This is due to their effectiveness, affordability, ease of use, and minimal side effects. Read our review of the top teeth whitening products available for more information.
2. Teeth Whitening Strips
Whitening strips are another effective way to whiten teeth. They are made of thin, flexible plastic material and a whitening gel containing hydrogen or carbamide peroxide.
Teeth whitening strips are cheaper than LED kits. They have the potential to produce the same results as LED kits. However, they can cause tooth sensitivity and can leave white stains if they are not applied properly. We recommend LED kits over whitening strips because they are easier to use, which results in more even whitening.
3. In-Office Professional Whitening Treatment
In-office professional tooth whitening treatment produces the same effect as LED kits and whitening strips in one to two sessions. They use whitening serums composed of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide but at higher concentrations.
This treatment will get you white teeth faster. Plus, because a dentist applies the serum for you, it is generally safer. However, it is much more expensive than whitening kits and strips. Each whitening session will cost you between $400 and $1,500.
4. Whitening Toothpastes and Mouth Rinses
Many DIY and over-the-counter whitening treatments claim to whiten your teeth. However, hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the safest and most effective science-backed tooth bleaching ingredients.4
Whitening toothpaste or mouth rinse is best used to maintain your tooth color after using other whitening methods.
5. Ineffective Methods
There are many DIY and over-the-counter whitening treatments that claim to whiten your teeth. However, hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the safest and most effective science backed tooth bleaching ingredients.1, 2, 3, 4
Many whitening methods are popular but have no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness. We recommend avoiding all of these treatments until they have been proven or disproven by science. Some of these could even potentially harm your teeth or gums.
The following methods are not clinically proven to be effective:
- Charcoal toothpaste, charcoal powder, or any other tooth powder
- Vinegar or acidic fruit-based DIY whitening
- Fruit peels
- Coconut oil pulling
- Tooth stains can be extrinsic, intrinsic, or due to your enamel layer wearing down (age-related)
- There are many ways to prevent teeth staining such as changing your diet, quitting smoking, and maintaining proper oral health care
- Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are natural and safe bleaching agents that give you a brighter smile
- At-home whitening is an effective and affordable option for getting rid of yellow teeth
- DIY whitening methods have not been proven by science and should be avoided
- LED whitening kits are the easiest way to whiten your teeth at home
In this article
View NewMouth's Top 6 Teeth Whitening Products of 2023
What Can Be Done to Whiten Yellow Teeth? If you're looking for a radical change in the coloring of your teeth, you need professional-grade whitening to get the job done. Your cosmetic dentist can provide treatment that penetrates deep into the enamel and removes years of stains with a powerful bleaching agent.How can I stop my teeth from being yellow? ›
Floss between your teeth daily. Limit food and drinks that stain teeth, such as cola, coffee, tea and red wine. Keep a clean reusable straw handy to sip liquids and prevent staining your front teeth.Why do my teeth get yellow so fast? ›
Frequently drinking wine, tea, or coffee and eating certain staining foods affects the shade of your tooth enamel. These foods and beverages leave color particles on your tooth's surface that penetrate your tooth enamel over time, leaving you with yellow or dull-looking teeth.Why are my teeth yellow but I brush them everyday? ›
Even with daily brushing, certain foods and drinks can cause stained teeth. For example, frequently drinking coffee, tea and wine can all lead to yellow teeth. In addition, even regular brushing cannot always combat yellow teeth caused by smoking cigarettes.Does brushing 3 times a day whiten teeth? ›
Tooth Brushing Isn't Meant to Whiten Teeth
Brushing twice a day (or more if recommended by a dentist) is essential, as it removes plaque and prevents cavities. The bristle action of a toothbrush won't whiten teeth, though, and even whitening toothpastes can only have a limited effect on the surface of teeth.
Use Hydrogen Peroxide
Studies have shown that toothpaste that contains 1% hydrogen peroxide and baking soda which can whiten teeth significantly. Further studies also show that brushing with toothpaste that contains hydrogen peroxide and baking soda twice in a day can whiten your teeth by 62% in just six weeks.
- Practice oil pulling. ...
- Brush with baking soda. ...
- Use hydrogen peroxide. ...
- Eat fruits and vegetables. ...
- Prevent tooth stains before they happen. ...
- Don't underestimate the value of brushing and flossing.
- Brushing your teeth. Your first plan of action should be to brush your teeth more often and in the correct manner. ...
- Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. ...
- Coconut oil pulling. ...
- Apple cider vinegar. ...
- Lemon, orange, or banana peels. ...
- Activated charcoal. ...
- Eating fruits and vegetables with a higher water content.
Hydrogen peroxide is an inexpensive household product you probably have on hand right now. When used carefully, it can be an effective way to whiten your teeth. But if used incorrectly — in concentrations that are too high or if used too often — it can cause serious and sometimes expensive tooth damage.How long does it take to whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide? ›
Generally at this concentration you would need to have your teeth in contact with the 3% hydrogen peroxide for about 5 hours a day for about 2-3 weeks to have meaningful tooth whitening, which is very difficult to do with a watery liquid.
Plaque buildup can also accumulate, leaving teeth dirty and yellow. Brushing, flossing and regular dentist visits can usually remove yellow plaque buildup, but over time without regular care, plaque can actually permanently stain your teeth.
If your teeth have biofilm or plaque buildup, this can prevent the bleaching agent from reaching the target stains. Before considering any teeth whitening treatment, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment for a dental cleaning. These cleanings remove all signs of biofilm and plaque on the surface of your teeth.Can baking soda whiten teeth? ›
Baking soda is an effective teeth whitener when used appropriately to brush the teeth. Keep in mind that it is also important to maintain regular dental visits and continue using a good toothpaste with any baking soda brushing routine.Why is my teeth whitening not working? ›
If teeth whitening does not work for you, it might be because of the product you are using, the type of tooth stains or spots, or strength of the bleaching gel. Product type – Whitening toothpaste does not remove deeply embedded stains.How are some people's teeth so white? ›
“Some people have very white enamel―the thin coating on the surface of teeth―while other people's enamel has a more yellow hue,” says Richard Price, a dentist in Newton, Massachusetts, and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. Environmental factors play a role, too.What whitens teeth? ›
Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can help to whiten stained teeth . For optimal whitening, a person can try brushing with a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for 1–2 minutes twice a day for a week.How are people getting their teeth so white? ›
They are actually covered by thin sheets of resin or porcelain called veneers. These tiny scale-like items can be used to reshape teeth, make crooked teeth look straight, or make naturally off-white teeth look impeccably white.How fast does baking soda whiten teeth? ›
Because baking soda removes discoloration from the surface of your teeth, it won't remove deeper stains. According to the Mayo Clinic, toothpaste containing baking soda can help coffee and smoking stains, and it could take between two to six weeks for you to notice a difference.Do Crest White Strips work? ›
If you want to know the truth, yes, Crest Whitestrips do work. They can make your teeth look whiter because of a gel that is spread along the strip and placed onto the surface of your teeth. This substance contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide and works to penetrate the tooth enamel to remove stains.What food gets rid of yellow teeth? ›
Eat plenty of crunchy fruit and vegetables, like apples, carrots and celery. They boost saliva and scrub your teeth, acting as natural stain removers. Make sure you're brushing your teeth twice a day, and as recommended by your dentist.
Salt acts as a surface abrasive and can definitely make teeth look whiter, but it can really damage your tooth enamel, and unfortunately once your enamel is damaged, it's damaged for life.Is there gum that actually whitens teeth? ›
List of common whitening gum: Supersmile professional whitening gum Calprox. Trident White gum titanium dioxide. Orbit White gum sodium bicarbonate.What is the best and safest way to whiten teeth? ›
For the safest and most effective at-home teeth whitening method, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recommends you use custom-fitted trays supplied by your dentist. Ill-fitting teeth whitening trays can cause the gel to ooze out and irritate your gums.Is it OK to brush your teeth with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide? ›
For deeper cleaning, people safely can mix baking soda with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to create a toothpaste. However, since hydrogen peroxide can sting, people with sensitive teeth and gums should discontinue using this paste if they experience pain or discomfort.Is it OK to rinse with peroxide everyday? ›
Although hydrogen peroxide can be beneficial for certain situations, you should only use it a few times a month. Rinsing with undiluted hydrogen peroxide can burn your organs and cause internal bleeding.What is the strongest hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening? ›
The American Dental Association gives a thumbs up to whiteners with up to 10% peroxide concentrations. Any higher than 10%, and you're at-risk for destroying your precious enamel.What happens if you leave hydrogen peroxide on your teeth? ›
Hydrogen peroxide can cause damage to the enamel of the teeth if a person uses the solution incorrectly. Learn more about hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening in this article.At what age do teeth start to yellow? ›
Their Permanent Teeth Are Starting to Come in
If your child is about 6-7 years old and their permanent teeth have started to erupt, you may notice that their permanent teeth look quite a bit more yellow than their baby teeth.
Many people notice that their teeth are more yellow near the gum line than the tips of their teeth. While a yellow hue near the gum line can be an early sign of tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems—it is usually an indication of dental plaque or tartar.What color should teeth be? ›
Natural Enamel Thickness & Translucency
Enamel is on the surface of every tooth and it has a natural hue of white. However, the underlying dentin layer has a slightly yellowish color. This yellowish hue shows through the enamel in almost everyone, but more so for those with naturally thinner or more translucent enamel.
Many of the methods listed above can be effective for whitening your teeth, including oil pulling, using baking soda or hydrogen peroxide, eating a healthy diet, and limiting consumption of foods or beverages that stain teeth.Is my yellow teeth permanent? ›
Thankfully, yellow teeth aren't forever. Not only can your teeth be whitened, but you can also adopt habits that keep them looking good. Use this blog to learn about why teeth become yellow, how you can fix them, and what you can do to prevent future discoloration.How long will it take yellow teeth to turn white? ›
Whitening toothpaste contains enzymes that eliminate stains while brushing your teeth. If you do this twice a day, results can range anywhere from two to six weeks.Is it too late to whiten teeth? ›
Teeth whitening treatment is a big step towards a more confident, happier you, and it's never too late to bring out those pearly whites!How do you whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide and Q tips? ›
The Smile Daily
Interesting: never buy white strips again!: dip q-tip in hydrogen peroxide (the key ingredient in whitestrips) and apply to surface of teeth for 30 sec before brushing teeth) once a day for a few days. Teeth will look whiter in 2 days.
Luckily, yellow teeth do not indicate any serious medical problem in most cases. While you shouldn't worry too much, yellow teeth do suggest poor oral health and an unappealing smile.What is the fastest way to whiten my teeth? ›
The quickest, most dramatic way to whiten is to get an in-office bleaching at a dentist's office. Using professional-strength hydrogen peroxide and special lights or lasers, your dentist can remove even deep stains in about an hour. It'll cost you, though—probably between $500 and $1,200.Does baking soda whiten teeth? ›
Baking soda is good for teeth whitening because it is a very mild abrasive, which helps remove stains from the surface of your teeth. In addition, baking soda is alkaline and salty, which helps lighten acid-based food stains – such as those from coffee, tea, and red wine – on teeth.How often is it OK to whiten teeth? ›
How often teeth whitening treatments are recommended by dentists. Professional teeth whitening performed in the dentist's office is recommended once every year to every 18 months, depending on how long the results last. At-home kits can be used as often as once every four to six months.What's best for teeth whitening? ›
- Bite Whitening Gel. ...
- Auraglow Teeth Whitening Pen. ...
- Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips. ...
- Burst Coconut Whitening Strips. ...
- Colgate Optic White Toothpaste. ...
- Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda and Peroxide Toothpaste. ...
- Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste. ...
- Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips by Oral Essentials.
When used twice a day, whitening toothpaste can take from two to six weeks to make teeth appear whiter. Whitening toothpastes that contain blue covarine can have an immediate effect.