What Causes Tooth Discoloration and Yellowing?

Many people go to extensive lengths to make their teeth as white as possible, by doing things such as purchasing tooth whitening kits from pharmacies. It can be distressing to notice tooth discoloration or yellowing, and it can be caused by both genetics and lifestyle habits.

Is Tooth Discoloration Genetic?

Some scientists have speculated that genetics may leave certain people pre-disposed to tooth discoloration. It is already known that our genes dictate our features and our body type, so it is not implausible that they may also dictate our susceptibility to having teeth that become discolored more easily. 

Some people are naturally born with whiter teeth than others and that each tooth in your mouth could develop into a slightly different shade than the other teeth (that is, our teeth are not necessarily uniform in color). Even though you may be born with a specific tooth composition, there are external factors that can affect this as well. Any negative change in the structure of a tooth can alter its original color, so the better your oral hygiene practices, the better chances you have of keeping your smile white.

Your tooth color is determined by the balance of minerals in the dentin of your teeth; however, it is the enamel that gives the tooth its real shade. Tooth enamel can develop stains and wear down over time when you eat acidic foods or drink carbonated beverages. However, some people can eat these foods for many years and not notice effects, while others may develop numerous cavities. This could be because some have more fragile enamel than others due to their genetics.

Do My Habits Affect the Color of My Teeth?

Most dentists agree that tooth discoloration is normally the result of a person’s lifestyle habits. There are many other causes of tooth discoloration, such as drinking a lot of coffee or wine and smoking cigarettes. These activities have the potential to leave stains on your teeth. But it could be that your tooth enamel is just more prone to getting discoloration and stains.

Even if you avoid smoking and drinking things like coffee, your teeth may not be yellower than someone else’s. Everyone would still have differently colored teeth, which lends some credence to the theory of genetic pre-determination.

Genetics are not solely to blame for discolored teeth, but may certainly have some influence in it. Lifestyle factors are a significant contributing factor in determining the color of your teeth. However, take a look at the color of your relatives’ teeth and you may notice similarities to your own.

For more information on how to better care for your teeth, contact our office and schedule a dental hygiene exam.