22 Surprising Facts about Yellow Teeth (… and brown, black, gray, or purple teeth)

22 Surprising Facts about Yellow Teeth (… and brown, black, gray, or purple teeth)

You may have heard the quote: "Your smile is the prettiest thing you can wear." I am not even sure who said that, but it's so true, right?

Aren't we usually most attracted to people who look happy? A smile equals happiness and joy and I would much rather talk to someone who's smiling than frowning.

But what happens when you all of a sudden notice your smile isn't as pretty as it used to be. You notice stains on your teeth that weren't there before. This is when the panic sets in.

yellow teeth, facts about stained teeth, woman shocked face
Photo by OSPAN ALI

You may have done a search on the internet about yellow teeth (or stained some other color) because you've noticed your teeth have been looking a little stained lately and you're panicked about it. You wonder out loud, "Why are my teeth yellow?!" How will you smile for photos with yellow teeth? Or talk to practically anyone? How embarrassing!

Coffee stains on teeth is super common, or your teeth getting stained from certain foods happens all the time (blueberries are a great example!).

You may be wondering how to get rid of yellow teeth. Just so you know, you can relax a little because there is a fix for your yellow teeth (or brown teeth, purple teeth, black teeth, gray teeth or teeth with white spots) - there is always a fix of some kind for one of the many types of teeth stains!

This article goes into some facts about your teeth stains and how to eliminate them from your life.

22 Facts About Stained Yellow Teeth

Or other color stains on teeth.

why are my teeth yellow?! Different causes & treatment options, shocked ladies face
Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy

1) Having visible yellow teeth could be caused by your enamel wearing down. If your enamel on your teeth wears away you will see the natural color of dentin on your tooth which is a yellowish color. What is the cause of yellow teeth by enamel wearing down? It can be caused by aging, genetics, highly acidic foods or teeth grinding. Once the enamel is gone, it doesn't come back. Luckily there is an easy fix for this - just go to your dentist and have them apply dental bonding to replace your enamel. You definitely want to do this, not just for cosmetic reasons but to protect your teeth form cavities forming or tooth sensitivity. If it's really bad, the dentist might suggest a dental crown.

2) There are many food & drinks that can cause teeth staining: coffee, tea, red wines, cola, blueberries, beets, turmeric. All of these might stain your teeth a variety of colors - yellow, blue, red, brown, etc. The top way to stop these from staining your teeth is to not eat them. But if you just can't live without your blueberries, then just be sure to brush your teeth after eating or at least rinse your mouth with water really well. This will help reduce the risk of them staining your teeth.

3) Tobacco stains teeth. Period.: smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco can cause brown stains on teeth or yellow teeth stains. Smoking stains on teeth are not pretty! If you happen to smoke, be sure to keep your mouth clean and free of plaque buildup because you will increase your risk of stained teeth. But it can also stain your enamel, so your best bet is you could use teeth whiteners, brush your teeth after every smoke/chew or stop smoking and/or chewing tobacco for best results. If you find a brown spot on your tooth, be sure to take action quickly to get it removed.

how to remove tobacco stains from teeth, woman smoking a cigarette
Photo by Vicky Hladynets

4) Some antibiotics can stain your teeth: Tetracycline and Doxycycline have been known to cause discolor to teeth, especially with children and their baby teeth.

5) Antihistamines (Benadryl) can lead to stains on your teeth: It's not the actual substance staining your teeth, it's eating foods that stain your teeth or smoking while taking antihistamines that can increase your risk of tooth stains. Why?? Well, because of Hyposalivation (reduced saliva production). It's just one negative side effect of antihistamines. Saliva helps to clear away any stain causing substances; therefore, this is why you're more likely to get stained teeth when using antihistamines, especially if you're drinking lots of red wine, or eating beets (for example). Always brush after eating foods that might stain your teeth, or simply rinse your mouth with water if taking antihistamines.

6) Hypertension meds can lead to discoloration of teeth: Certain prescription meds used for high blood pressure might lead to yellow teeth (or other staining) for the same reason as antihistamines (mentioned above) - hyposalivation, or a reduction of saliva production. Without the saliva to help wash away stain causing substances, you're more likely to get stained teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after eating anything staining, or brush your teeth!

7) Antipsychotic drugs might lead to yellow teeth (or other color stains on your teeth): These drugs can cause hyposalivation (just like hypertension meds or antihistamines in the previous points). Hyposalivation is a suppression of saliva in the mouth. Having a lack of saliva is just a negative effect of taking these meds because saliva helps to clear the mouth of stain causing agents and therefore it's recommended you rinse your mouth with water after eating, drinking or smoking. Or you can also brush your teeth!

medicine pills in the palm of someones hand
Photo by Ksenia Yakovleva

8) Too much fluoride can cause stains on children's teeth: If your child has white spots on teeth, this could be why. It's been shown that too much fluoride might not be a good thing after all. This can also look like opaque white lines or spots (called fluorosis) and could lead to higher risk of tooth decay.

9) Specific ingredients in mouth rinse or mouth wash might stain your teeth: If you have a mouth wash or mouth rinse that contains cetylpyridinium chloride you might notice staining of your tooth enamel. This doesn't happen for everyone, it's actually a small percentage of people it does happen to, but it's possible. Luckily it's only surface stains and can be removed at your annual cleaning at the dentists office.

10) Poor Dental Hygiene can cause yellow teeth: This one might seem obvious to you, because it is! If you don’t brush or floss regularly you are increasing your chances of plaque buildup - and this is where stains can attach themselves to your teeth. It's that simple, brush and floss your teeth daily and reduce your chances of yellow teeth - or other color stained teeth. Flossing especially helps with yellow between teeth or sudden brown stains between teeth. It helps remove plaque and tartar buildup between your teeth. Stains can easily attach themselves to tartar and plaque, so flossing reduces your risk or stains between teeth dramatically!

11) There are a few ways you might get stained teeth from braces. One is tooth decalcification. This can happen after braces when you don’t have good oral hygiene. You will notice white spots on your teeth where the brace brackets were. This is decalcification teeth where you have calcium deposits on teeth. Make sure to always brush and floss to prevent this from happening and to prevent tooth decay. Brushing after each meal is also recommended - or at least rinsing your mouth if you are away from home and don’t have a toothbrush. Another is stains caused by certain foods (same as mentioned above). If you’re not brushing, your teeth will remain stained. You can get rid of stains after having your braces removed using teeth whiteners, getting a professional cleaning, and using whitening toothpaste and mouthwash. As a last resort you could get other dental treatments such as cosmetic bonding, microabrasion, or dental veneers.

woman with braces, black and white photo
Photo by Valeria Nikitina

12) Chemo or radiation can cause mouth and tooth discoloration issues. Especially when done for mouth or neck cancer, you might experience mouth problems such as less saliva production, weak enamel, and weak dentin production. All of these can lead to teeth discoloration. No saliva means you have nothing in your mouth to wash away stain causing substances. Weakened enamel means it might wear away easier and cause your dentin to show (yellow color) and also cause tooth decay which will be brown or black in color.

13) Sometimes pregnant mothers can get infections or a fever which can lead to tooth discoloration in their babies because the infection affects the enamel development. The child will have white spots on teeth and look mottled.

14) Metal amalgam fillings can cause you to have gray teeth or black teeth. The reason being is when you get your tooth filled after a cavity was removed, the dark metal amalgam can be seen beneath your tooth because our teeth are somewhat transparent and the dark color comes through. There are many other options to teeth fillings that are tooth colored and won't cause this dark tooth color.

15) Tooth decay will cause black spots on teeth. If you notice black stains on teeth (or brown, or gray spots on your teeth), it might be tooth decay. Tooth decay (aka: a cavity) will show up as a small spot on your tooth. Decay will continue to grow if you don't do anything about it. See your dentist to avoid further decay.

16) Tooth pulp necrosis can cause your tooth to appear black or gray. What is this? It's when your pulp tissue inside your tooth dies. Make sure to brush, floss and visit your dentist regularly to avoid risk of this happening.

17) General healthy mouth hygiene is the best prevention route to clean white teeth. Brush daily. Twice a day preferred, or after meals is even better! Flossing at least once a day will help reduce plaque buildup between your teeth which will reduce risk of stains between teeth. Using a fluoride mouth wash or mouth rinse can also help. But keep an eye out for mouth wash or rinse that contains cetylpyridinium chloride, because as we mentioned in a previous point, this causes teeth staining in some people.

woman brushing teeth
Photo by Diana Polekhina

18) Get a teeth cleaning at least once a year at your dentists office. Some stains can't be removed from everyday teeth brushing at home. Getting your teeth deep cleaned by a licensed dental hygienist can help.

19) When drinking coffee, tea, soda or anything else that can stain or is highly acidic - drink with a straw! Doing so will help better to protect your teeth from these substances and reduce your chance of staining your teeth or harming your enamel.

20) Whitening agents are helpful to bleach away the stains on the surface of your teeth. You can use whitening agents at home that are purchased either over the counter or from your dentist. Some dentists even offer whitening services in-office which is basically a teeth bleaching. Note that whitening agents will only help with removal of surface stains, but not stains that are caused by something under your enamel.

21) Dental Bonding is often used to hide teeth irregularities or imperfections. Often it's used when your enamel has wore away as a replacement to protect your tooth dentin. The process is your dentist will fuse some material onto your teeth to hide your stains or imperfections.

22) Dental Veneers can be used to cover ugly naturally yellow teeth (or other unwanted stains). It's probably the most drastic aesthetic procedure to fix your teeth. If your teeth are still yellow after whitening or good dental hygiene or other methods, then maybe this is the way to go for you. A thin shell of dental material will be placed over the entire front of the tooth to hide your stains and imperfections.

woman smiling big pointing to her mouth
Photo by Juriel Majeed


If you've ever had a panic attack after noticing your teeth weren't white anymore and rushed to the dentist to tell him "Help! My teeth are yellow!", then I hope this article helped you to understand why they are yellow (or another color) and how to prevent this from happening in the future.

1. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tooth-discoloration

2. https://www.evansondds.com/what-to-do-about-worn-and-missing-enamel/

3. https://www.peninsuladentalexcellence.com/blog/the-link-between-certain-medications-and-tooth-discoloration

4. https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2020/february/fluorosis.html

5. https://www.teethtalkgirl.com/dental-health/is-your-mouthwash-staining-your-teeth

6. https://www.auraortho.com/what-causes-braces-stains-10-ways-to-avoid-them/