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What Causes Tooth Discoloration? 

Updated March 11, 2022

We all want to have a bright, white smile. But thanks to both internal and external factors, our teeth can transform from their once brilliant appearance to a dull, discolored look. In this week’s blog, your dentist in Memphis explores some of the things, both within our control and out of our control, that can cause tooth discoloration. 

A Quick Note About Tooth Discoloration
Before we dive into some of the top causes of discoloration, we want to let you know that if you’re unhappy with the color of your teeth, you’re not alone. Smile whitening is one of the most popular dental treatments in the United States, and according to one study, over 56% of people wished their teeth were whiter. That’s probably why Americans spend over a billion dollars on tooth whitening treatments every year! 

Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration

  • Smoking

Perhaps the most common reason behind tooth discoloration is smoking or using smokeless tobacco. The tar, nicotine, and tobacco itself are all staining ingredients, and since using tobacco is addictive, these ingredients are being introduced into the mouth on a regular basis and often over the period of many years. The result is yellowed teeth or even brown teeth. Your dentist in Memphis will usually need to use a combination of smile whitening treatments and cosmetic dentistry treatments to whiten teeth discolored by tobacco. 

  • Trauma

One of the causes of tooth discoloration that’s outside of our control (mostly) is tooth trauma. Trauma can occur from an automobile accident, a fall, or even a sporting accident. These types of accidents can cause a tooth or even several teeth to appear dark and gray. This is due to damage inside of the tooth. Tooth trauma should be checked by your dentist as soon as possible and monitored over time. While we can’t avoid all accidents, we can take steps to prevent tooth trauma when playing sports by wearing a fitted mouthguard. 

  • Diet

What we eat and drink plays a large role in our oral health and in the color of our teeth. For example, things like coffee, tea, wine, berries, and tomato sauce can all cause tooth discoloration. But that’s not all. A diet that’s highly acidic will attack and wear down tooth enamel, causing teeth to appear more transparent, dull, gray, or yellow. A diet high in sugar can result in tooth decay and cause teeth to have brown spots or dark splotches.  

  • Oral Hygiene

Your dentist in Memphis will tell you just how important it is to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. After all, these oral hygiene habits help protect your teeth from cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems. But did you know that brushing and flossing can also help keep your teeth white? It’s true. Those who don’t follow a good oral hygiene routine at home are more prone to yellowish or gray teeth and may even experience orange or green spots throughout their grins.

When it comes to keeping your teeth bright and white, make sure to brush and floss regularly, avoid using tobacco, and enjoy staining foods and drinks in moderation. Don’t forget, it’s also crucial that you see your dentist every six months for regular checkups and professional cleanings. These appointments go a long way in keeping your smile both healthy and white.