The protective enamel surface of your teeth has a naturally bluish-white tinge. The inner portion of your teeth, the dentin, is naturally yellowish or tannish gray. In strong, young, healthy teeth, the layers of enamel hide the dinginess of the dentin.
Aging, your lifestyle, and certain drugs and diseases may discolor your teeth, leaving them looking yellow, brown, green, or spotted. The dental experts at Mosaic Dental in Sterling, Virginia, want you to pay attention to your teeth and learn about the color clues they give that could indicate a problem.
Bright white spots on your teeth could be a sign of a condition called fluorosis. Although dentists use the mineral fluoride to strengthen your teeth, and virtually all ADA-approved toothpastes contain fluoride, too much of a good thing can be … well, not good.
Children may develop fluorosis if they drink highly fluoridated water. They may also develop it if they use an excessive amount of fluoride products or undergo too many fluoride dental treatments.
A very rare condition called porphyria may cause your teeth to look deep red or reddish brown. Porphyrias are a group of genetic diseases that affect the production of heme, which is an important part of the blood protein hemoglobin. Drugs and alcohol, as well as infections and hormones can also trigger porphyrias.
Your teeth may turn green because of intrinsic (internal to the tooth) factors, or extrinsic (a habit or exposure to something outside the tooth) reasons. A few causes of green teeth include:
- Infant jaundice
- Rh or ABO blood incompatibility
- Hemolytic anemia
Certain medications, such as tetracycline, may also turn babies’ or children’s teeth green.
Gray or black teeth
If you got metal fillings in your teeth to repair and seal cavities, they could be the culprit behind your gray or black teeth. Just as tarnished silver develops black patches, the silver in your metal amalgams could discolor all of your teeth.
Coffee and tea are notorious for leaving brown stains on your teeth. But worst of all may be tobacco. Chewing tobacco, especially, exposes your teeth to the pigments in the tobacco plant.
However, brown teeth could be more than mere stains. When you don’t brush the sticky, bacteria-laden plaque off your teeth after meals, it eventually hardens into a brown, crusty substance called tartar. You can’t remove tartar yourself. Only a dentist has the tools and skill to safely scrape tartar scales from your teeth.
If you’ve read about the other discolorations and they don’t apply to you, you may now be appreciating your yellow teeth. Most of the time, yellowish teeth are caused by one or more of these factors:
- Enamel erosion
- Drinking coffee, tea, or colas
- Smoking cigarettes
- Chewing tobacco
- Eating berries or other highly colored foods
If your enamel is weak or thin, over-the-counter whitening kits may further damage it over time.
Keeping or turning your teeth white
Whether it’s factual or not, many people evaluate your youthfulness, energy, and healthiness by the color of your teeth. A bright white smile conveys strength, confidence, and good health.
In many cases, poor dental hygiene contributes to or causes your discolored teeth. Be sure to brush at least twice daily and rinse after every meal or snack. Floss at least once a day. Visit us for a checkup and professional cleaning at least twice a year.
However, genetics do play a role in how white your teeth are to begin with. And even if you keep your teeth clean and they’re otherwise healthy, stains and aging can leave them looking less than their best.
If you’d like to give the impression of health and vigor each time you smile, contact us about teeth cleaning, teeth healing, and cosmetic dentistry procedures such as teeth whitening or veneers. Reach out to our expert team at Mosaic Dental by calling our office or requesting an appointment online today.