Tooth Discoloration: What Causes Yellow Teeth Stains?

Last updated on August 16th, 2023

Teeth discoloration is a common problem making millions of people somewhat uncomfortable with their smiles. Even though yellow teeth may be the most frequent problem, the discoloration can come in various shades and stain colors. Fortunately, there are practical and effective ways to deal with tooth discoloration.

In this post, you will read interesting things about this common phenomenon. Starting with the causes of the discoloration; you will learn about treatment options as well as how to protect the natural white color of the teeth for a longer time.


What Are The Types of Tooth Discoloration?

There are several types of tooth discoloration that can affect the appearance of your teeth. Some of the most common types include:

  1. Extrinsic Discoloration – This type of discoloration occurs on the outer layer of the tooth, also known as the enamel. It is often caused by certain foods and drinks such as coffee, tea, and red wine, as well as tobacco use.
  2. Intrinsic Discoloration – This type of discoloration occurs within the tooth, affecting the dentin layer. It can be caused by factors such as aging, trauma, certain medications, and exposure to excessive fluoride during tooth development.
  3. Age-Related Discoloration – As we age, our teeth naturally become more yellow and dull-looking due to the wear and tear of daily use.
  4. Combination Discoloration – Some people may experience a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration, making it more difficult to treat.

What Causes Yellow Teeth?

Yellow teeth are usually the result of bad eating and drinking habits accompanied by poor oral hygiene. In most cases, tea and coffee are the first to blame, but many other drinks containing alcohol or acid have a significant effect on the discoloration of the teeth. 

Genetic Factors

As you may already know, certain genetic factors can run in the family in a more visible way. In this respect, if the parents have yellow teeth (or other darker tones), their child has the potential to have yellow teeth, too.

Enamel & Dentin 

Enamel is the layer on the outer surface of the teeth, and dentin is the layer beneath that. Normally the enamel is white, and the dentin is pale yellow. If your enamel layer is thinner than normal, the dentin can be exposed, which results in a yellow appearance on the surface.

Age-Related Wear

As people get older, their teeth can go yellow, and that is natural. Actually, the enamel layer gets thinner with age, and the tooth surface becomes more vulnerable to extrinsic discoloration from acidic food and drinks. 


Smoking is harmful in many aspects. Nicotine in tobacco products damages the shiny white color of the tooths’ surface, and in time, the enamel becomes a yellow or brown color.

Food And Drinks

Coffee, tea, and some other drinks containing acid or alcohol are the most common causes of discolored teeth. Also, foods with certain types of sauces or spices can severely damage the enamel of the teeth. Although staining foods and drinks are part of our daily life you can still minimize the risk by cutting down on such foods and drinks and taking care of your oral hygiene immediately after eating or drinking.

Certain Medications

Some antibiotics such as tetracycline can cause discoloration problems for babies if a mother takes them in the second half of her pregnancy. Also, if a child takes such medications before the age of 8, s/he can have stained teeth in adulthood. 


Brushing the teeth regularly is a good habit, but when children take too much fluoride, an important ingredient of most kinds of toothpaste, yellow or brownish spots or white pale lines can appear on their tooth enamel. 


After certain accidents or physical traumas, the tooth enamel can get cracked, or the tooth root can bleed. Such damages can easily lead to discoloration on the teeth’ surface since the enamel layer cannot protect the dentin structure.


Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is another problem that can cause various problems including yellow teeth. Persistent grinding can wear the enamel layer and the teeth become prone to extrinsic damage.

How Can You Get Rid Of Yellow Teeth?

Can yellow teeth become white again? A lot of people suffer from yellow teeth, and most of them seek an answer to this question. The simple answer is Yes! You can get rid of discolored teeth through certain home remedies or professional dental treatments.

Home Remedies

Here are some practical home remedies listed for you:

Toothbrushing: Oral hygiene is a must, and you can achieve this through regular and effective tooth brushing

Some Over-The-Counter Products: Teeth whitening gels, whitening strips, mouth trays with gel, or paint-on tooth gels are some practical products you can buy and use at home yourself.

Baking Soda And Peroxide: You can buy baking soda and hydrogen peroxide online and mix them at home. Using your regular toothbrush you can brush your teeth with this paste, and simply rinse it out with water.

Coconut Oil Pulling: You can try oil pulling using coconut oil for whiter teeth. According to a study, published in Heliyon, in 2020, coconut oil might have positive effects on oral health and hygiene.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can help clean the hard stains and plaque on the enamel surface. However, you should use it in small amounts since it can damage your natural enamel surface, too.

Fruit Peels: It has also been claimed that some fruits such as oranges, lemons, or bananas can help whiten the teeth by rubbing the peels on the tooth’s surface.

Professional Dental Treatments For Yellow Teeth 

Unfortunately, home remedies don’t work for a lot of people, and they desperately ask “What are some cosmetic procedures dentists use to whiten yellow teeth?”. Here are the most popular procedures that professionals do at dental clinics.

Teeth Whitening (Professional Teeth Bleaching): It is the most common procedure to whiten yellow teeth. The procedure usually involves using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Additionally, methods such as laser teeth whitening can also be employed.

Further Cosmetic Procedures: If the discoloration stems from other problems such as tooth decay, or cavities, you can consider other treatments like veneers, crowns, or even dental implants to get back your beautiful white smile.

Laser Teeth Bleaching

Will Teeth Turn Yellow More Easily After Whitening? 

Your teeth can be more prone to discoloration immediately after a professional whitening treatment. The first few days are especially important for the future color of your teeth. Therefore, you should be even more careful about the following issues:

  • Avoid colored foods or drinks.
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
  • Brush your teeth regularly.
  • Cut out smoking.

How Long Do Teeth Bleaching Last?

The effect of teeth bleaching can last up to a year or even a little longer than 1 year. However, the effectiveness time of teeth whitening depends on your consumption of colorful drinks as well as your teeth structure. If you are a coffee drinker or tea drinker you might see the whitening fading away faster. And for those who smoke whitening effect won’t last either.

How Long Do Teeth Whitening Last?

How To Care After Whitening?

Teeth whitening procedures can give you the bright white smile that you have been longing for. Consequently, you never want to lose your beautiful smile thus taking care of your teeth after whitening is highly important. 

Sensitivity is a normal feeling after the whitening procedure. Therefore, you can ask for medications to lessen the sensation during the first 1-2 days following the treatment. Also, you should take into consideration the points listed above immediately after the dental whitening or bleaching procedure.

Why Are My Teeth Turning Yellow With Braces?

As you eat and drink while you have braces, food particles, and stains get stuck under the braces. Though tooth brushing helps to some extent, it is not always possible to remove them completely. So, tartar and plaque build up around and under the braces over time.


Can The Orthodontist Whiten Teeth After Braces?

Discoloration is not in the scope of an orthodontist. However, in most dental clinics you can find orthodontists and cosmetic dentists in the same place. So, you can ask for a teeth whitening treatment usually within the same building.

How Can I Prevent Yellow Teeth After Braces?

Brushing effectively is the best thing you can do to prevent yellow stains. You should brush immediately after eating or drinking staining things. Also, regular mouthwash usage can help remarkably well if you use the right products at the right time. Finally, you can try cutting down on coffee, tea, acidic sauces…etc. during your brace treatment.


You can find the most popular questions about yellow teeth here:

Why are my teeth still yellow even though I brush them every day?

Hard brushing can be a factor leading to a thinner enamel layer. Also, genetic factors may also have a role in the color of your teeth.

Why are my teeth becoming yellow suddenly? 

The reason may be related to the thinning of the enamel layer. And thin enamel can be the result of various factors including your overall health, diet, or abrasive tooth brushing.

Does coffee make your teeth yellow?

Yes, it does.

What causes yellow teeth in a teenager?

Teenagers may have yellow teeth owing to one or more of the causes listed above. However, poor oral hygiene accelerates whatever the original reason is. Unfortunately, teenagers may fail to take care of their oral hygiene compared to kids or adults.

What color braces should I get if I have yellow teeth? 

Silver or clear braces are good for people with yellow teeth.

Why are my teeth more yellow near the gum line? 

Usually, it is because of tartar build-up near the gum line. However, you should still see a dentist since it is sometimes an early sign of tooth decay.

Does orange juice cause yellow teeth? 

It doesn’t yellow your teeth directly but it does dissolve the enamel layer due to its acidic content. It means your teeth are now more prone to further discoloration.

Are natural yellow teeth more attractive than bleached teeth?

It is a subjective matter, but according to a survey conducted DentaVox, 80% of the respondents find yellow teeth less attractive.

Are braces stains permanent?

By regular brushing and mouthwash, you can gradually make the stains less visible, but they don’t usually go away completely without a cosmetic treatment.

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