What Causes Teeth To Turn Yellow?

A smile that is half yellow and half white to show the benefits of teeth whitening

According to Victoria Sherrow, author of The Historical Encyclopedia of Good Looks, ancient Egyptians often tinted their teeth with red clay. In Japan, blackening teeth was very popular during the 19th century. The ancient Romans preferred white teeth, and used urine as a bleaching agent.

Like the ancient Romans, most modern Americans want their teeth to be as white as possible. Fortunately, there are many whitening methods to choose from, and none of them require the use of urine! There are various forms of tooth discoloration, but it is the common yellow hue that so many Americans wish to avoid. But what exactly causes that dreaded yellowy tone? That is the subject of this article.

Food & Beverages

The most common causes of yellow teeth are smoking or chewing tobacco products, and drinking coffees and teas. However, any food or drink that can stain clothes can also stain teeth. So wine, chocolate, dark sauces, and many fruits and vegetables can be added to the list. In addition, foods and beverages with high acidic content can promote staining by eroding tooth enamel, which makes it easier for their colors to be absorbed.


Needless to say, any stain-producing substances that you consume are more likely to cause discoloration if teeth are not adequately brushed and flossed. Also, poor hygiene allows the buildup of plaque and tartar, which can make teeth appear yellow. In addition to daily hygiene, regular professional cleaning is also a must.


Some people are simply born with teeth that appear more yellow than normal. This is usually a result of having a thin layer of enamel, which allows the naturally yellowish color of the tooth’s dentin to show through more clearly.


Similarly, as we get older, the outer layer of enamel gets increasingly thinner, making teeth appear more yellow. The best protection against thinning enamel is to ensure proper saliva production, which can wash away food and plaque from teeth. Drink plenty of water and brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.

Whiten Up at Hillstream Dental

If you are concerned about the color of your teeth, we have options to whiten and brighten your smile. Together, we can choose the whitening option that best suits your needs. We look forward to seeing you at either our Rochester Hills office or our office in St. Clair Shores. Give us a call as soon as restrictions are lifted. We’ll all have something to smile about!

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Hillstream Dental

Hillstream Dental