What Can Cause The Discoloration Of My Front Tooth?

Our Burlington dentist breaks it down.

Tooth discoloration occurs when the colour of your teeth changes.

The teeth may appear more dull and not look as bright or white as they once did, or they may darken, or even take on different colours or shades. Another possibility is the development of white or dark spots in certain areas.

Some potential reasons for tooth staining include:

a) extrinsic causes, involving another substance or object that has come into contact with your teeth,

b) intrinsic causes, involving something inside of the teeth or body, or,

c) age-related factors - leading discolouration to occur naturally as one gets older.

Furthermore, specific causes of tooth discoloration commonly include:

Certain foods and beverages: Coffee, tea, wine, colas, soy sauce, tomato sauce, dark dressings, grape and cranberry juice, as well as certain fruits and vegetables like berries, beets, potatoes and apples can contribute to teeth staining.

Tobacco use: Either smoking or chewing tobacco can very rapidly stain the teeth.

Poor dental hygiene care: Neglecting daily brushing and flossing, as well as routine dental visits at 6-9 month intervals can contribute to teeth staining.

Oral disease: There are several kinds of oral health diseases or circumstances that affect the surface tooth enamel, as well as the underlying dentin layer, that can contribute to tooth discolouration. Treatments for certain conditions can even impact the colour of the teeth.

For example, chemotherapy as well as head and neck radiation can contribute to teeth discoloration, and certain infections that pregnant women are prone to can lead to dental discoloration in their babies through impacting enamel development.

Certain medications: There are certain types of medications known to contribute to tooth discoloration. These include the antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline, which can discolour teeth when administered to children whose teeth are still in development (prior to age 8).

Mouth rinses and washes that contain chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride are also teeth-staining culprits, in addition to antihistamines such as Benadryl, antipsychotic medications, and medications for managing high blood pressure.

Ageing: As one gets older, it is natural for the teeth to discolor. This is due to their the surface enamel of the teeth wearing away, and/or any of the aforementioned contributors that will advance discoloration with time.

Genetics: We’re all built differently - and some individuals have brighter or thicker enamel than others simply by nature.

Environmental factors: Excessive exposure to the mineral fluoride from environmental sources (such as naturally higher levels of fluoride contained in water), or excessive fluoride use (such as with with fluoride-containing mouth rinses, toothpastes, applications or supplements taken orally) can certainly cause teeth discoloration and staining.

Certain dental materials: Certain kinds of materials used in dentistry, such as amalgam used in fillings or restorations (namely containing silver sulfide) can cast a grey-black shade to the teeth.

Trauma or dental damage: When the teeth experience high impact or trauma due to an accident or injury, this can also lead to discoloration.

Determining the cause of staining by the color of your teeth

Yellow: The cause is likely aging. As you get older, the wearing away of the white surface enamel exposes more of the underlying yellow dentin layer - causing the teeth to appear a more yellowish hue.

Brown: Tobacco use, and/or regular consumption of dark beverages or substances such as coffee, tea, wine, or any of those mentioned previously may cause the teeth to turn brown, or even yellow-brown. Poor oral cleaning habits may also cause teeth that turn brownish in colour.

White: As child teeth develop, fluoride exposure can cause white spots. This condition is referred to as “fluorosis”, and it occurs when the teeth come into contact with too much fluoride from either drinking water, or from fluoride products like rinses or toothpastes.

Purple: Consuming red wine regularly can actually cause the teeth to turn purplish in hue.

Black: Either tooth decay or pulp necrosis may turn the teeth grayish or black in color. Also, chewing on betel nuts can turn the teeth black.

Alternatively, exposure to minerals such as iron, manganese, or silver whether from supplements or via industrial settings may cause a black line to form on the teeth.

By following the guidelines below, you can help to prevent tooth discoloration:

  • Quit or reduce your intake of coffee or tea consumptio
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco products (this is more of a general health recommendation!)
  • Drink through a straw to reduce the amount of contact that stain-causing liquids have with the teeth.
  • Work to improve your dental hygiene care practices daily, if there is room for improvement.
  • Schedule a teeth cleaning with the hygienist every 6 or so months. Professional cleanings are capable of eliminating surface-level stains in addition to scraping away plaque and/or tartar.
  • If you ever notice a change in the color of your teeth with no explanation as to why, schedule a visit with a dental professional as soon as possible.

Treatment options for tooth discolouration

When it comes to treating tooth staining, the correct method of treatment will depend on the cause of the discoloration. Our Burlington dentist will be able to help you to determine the potential cause of your tooth staining, and will recommend treatment method(s) that may include:

  • Undergoing an in-office professional teeth whitening treatment with the dentist, or through purchasing a take-home whitening kit to do it yourself
  • Other cosmetic dental treatments such as dental bonding or porcelain veneer
  • Avoiding the foods and drinks contributing to staining
  • Using over-the-counter teeth whitening products such as whitening toothpastes

Ready to address your tooth or teeth discoloration problem?

Our expert dentist Dr. Samuel Toong would be happy to help.

Contact our Asleep For Dentistry team to book your appointment today