Yellow Teeth


Why are Teeth Yellow: Causes & Prevention

Written By : Generations of Smiles Writers

Reviewed By : Charles Rodgers, DDS

Published: Nov 17, 2021

In This Article

Why Are My Teeth Yellow?

You may feel like As Tom Wilson once said, “A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” If you have a mouth full of dazzlingly white teeth, that phrase may ring true for you. However, your smile could also be a source of insecurity and concern if you suffer from yellow teeth. The good news is that if you struggle with this issue, there are many solutions regarding how to whiten your teeth – it’s just a matter of finding the right one that works for your unique situation.

you’re doing everything right when it comes to oral hygiene. You brush at least twice a day, floss, and keep up with your regular dental exams – but even so, you might still find yourself staring in the mirror and wondering, “Why are my teeth so yellow?” Yellow teeth causes vary, so in order to determine the right treatment, it’s important to know the primary cause of your yellow-tinged teeth.

Is it Normal to Have Yellow Teeth?

Over time, the enamel on your teeth will gradually wear down due to the effects of acidic foods and beverages, hard brushing, issues such as teeth grinding or GERD, and the normal aging process we all experience. Dentin, which is the layer underneath the enamel, is a yellowish-brown color; as the enamel is eroded over the course of life, more dentin shows through at the surface. In this respect, it is normal to have yellow teeth – especially as you age.

Why Are My Teeth Yellow When I Brush them Every Day?

Good oral hygiene is extremely important; however, just because you are a superstar when it comes to brushing doesn’t mean your teeth will be white. In fact, brushing too hard with certain strokes can actually wear away the enamel and lead to yellowing. The fact is, there are many factors outside of good brushing habits that can cause teeth to be yellow, so stay the course when it comes to keeping your teeth clean. Brush thoroughly and properly with the right toothbrush and consult your dentist if you have persistent yellowing that worsens over time.

What Causes Yellow Teeth?

There are many reasons you might have yellow teeth, ranging from natural causes to environmental factors that could have a significant impact on the brilliance of your smile. Knowing the cause of a problem helps direct you to the appropriate solution, especially when multiple solutions are available. It’s important to do some self-reflection and consult with your dentist about the likely causes for yellowing teeth in your situation.


There are different types of staining to consider when it comes to your teeth. Stains can be intrinsic, meaning below the enamel, or extrinsic, meaning stains that are on the surface of the enamel itself.

Extrinsic stains are often caused by food and drinks that are highly likely to stain the teeth, such as coffee, red wine, berries, and tomatoes. Choosing food and drinks carefully, considering their effect on your teeth, can greatly reduce the amount of staining. Extrinsic stains are generally easier to control and easier to treat once they’re set in place.

Intrinsic stains are a little tougher to combat, as the stains are located below the enamel in the interior parts of the teeth. Intrinsic stains can be caused by excessive fluoride use, trauma, medical treatments, or even antibiotics. While they are more difficult to remove than extrinsic stains, a capable dentist will know just how to get rid of those persistent deep-level stains so your teeth can be pearly-white once again.

Over-Zealous Brushing

It’s great to have a passion for good oral hygiene and brush thoroughly to fight bacteria buildup that can lead to plaque and tartar. But be careful that you don’t get too excited and brush with a heavy hand, particularly in a rough side-to-side motion - brushing too hard (especially with a toothbrush that has hard bristles) can wear away the enamel, causing those yellowish lower layers of dentin to be more apparent at the surface. You might feel like your teeth are getting cleaned, but the result over time could be a significant yellowing of the teeth.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene can lead to a plethora of problems, including yellowing of the teeth. Proper brushing and flossing coupled with regular dental exams are of paramount importance in removing plaque-causing bacteria and substances on the teeth that might lead to stains.

Tobacco Use

It’s no secret that tobacco use is extremely harmful to your overall and oral health. Not only does it lead to an array of diseases, but it wreaks havoc on your teeth. When nicotine reacts with oxygen, it takes on a yellowish or even brown color that creates stains.


Everyone is unique in their genetic makeup, and some people are genetically predisposed to have thicker, whiter enamel than others. On the contrary, some family lines tend to have dull or yellowed teeth from generation to generation.

The Aging Process

Aging is inevitable. We may try to avoid it, cover it up, or pretend it’s not happening – but it’s definitely happening. Yellowing teeth is a natural part of the aging process. Enamel is worn down over the years from food, drinks, and a variety of other factors that all take a toll on your teeth, leaving the dentin to show through with its dull, yellow tint.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Teeth

Yellow teeth can have a negative effect on self-esteem and can affect the way others relate to you, both personally and professionally. Consequently, most people are eager to know how to get white teeth. The good news is that there are many options, including professional treatments, at-home treatments, and even natural home remedies if you’re specifically interested in how to whiten teeth naturally. The most effective treatment for you will depend on several factors, so be sure to determine the cause of your yellow teeth in order to choose the appropriate method for whitening.

It’s fairly simple to whiten teeth if the stains are extrinsic surface stains on the enamel. However, if you have intrinsic stains that reach below the enamel, professional treatments will likely be the most effective options. It’s important to take into account side effects from certain treatments like increased sensitivity, so be sure to consult a dentist if you have questions or concerns about the different options for whitening.

Professional Whitening

Dentists who practice cosmetic dentistry usually offer professional in-office whitening treatments. Professional whitening is more potent and can reach deeper stains than over-the-counter options or most home remedies. The treatment typically takes about an hour and involves a dental exam as well as making sure the teeth are properly cleaned and prepped for the process. Your dentist will show you various levels of whiteness to choose from, so you can pick a shade that will feel natural and comfortable for you.


Veneers are a great option for a smile makeover, especially when you have stubborn intrinsic stains. There are different types of veneers with various methods of application. Still, all have the same general result – they act as a sort of shell that covers the teeth, which allows you to choose the shade of white for a uniform look that will cover any discoloration present.

How to Whiten Teeth at Home

There is no shortage of options when it comes to at-home whitening kits that can be purchased over the counter. These treatments are generally most effective on surface stains from that daily coffee habit or your deep love of chocolate-covered strawberries. Be cautious when using at-home whitening kits, as some can lead to increased sensitivity over time.

Natural Whitening Remedies

There are plenty of options that offer a natural approach to teeth whitening, such as:
Coconut oil pulling
  • Applying a paste made of one tablespoon baking soda and two tablespoons hydrogen peroxide directly to the teeth, or choosing a toothpaste that has those ingredients
  •  Using an activated charcoal toothpaste
  • Decreasing consumption of food and drinks that stain teeth

Find a Cosmetic Dentist Near You to Whiten Your Teeth

It can be extremely frustrating to feel like you’re doing everything possible to practice good oral hygiene and still suffer from yellowing teeth. If you’ve tried at-home and natural remedies to no avail, it may be time to reach out to a cosmetic dentist to find out how to make your teeth white. A dental professional will know just what to look for to determine the cause of yellowing teeth and what the most effective solution will be, whether that means professional whitening treatments or even veneers.

If you’re new in town and asking where to find a dentist near me or just looking for a fresh start with a highly qualified, capable professional, check out the Smile Generation Find a Dentist tool to connect with a cosmetic dentist in your area.


Find your trusted, local dentist today!



Smile Generation blog articles are reviewed by a licensed dental professional before publishing. However, we present this information for educational purposes only with the intent to promote readers’ understanding of oral health and oral healthcare treatment options and technology. We do not intend for our blog content to substitute for professional dental care and clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment planning provided by a licensed dental professional. Smile Generation always recommends seeking the advice of a dentist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional for a dental or medical condition or treatment. 

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