Teeth can darken for many reasons, such as from poor dental hygiene, stain-causing food and drinks,tobacco use, certain medicines and diseases, advancing age, injury to teeth, family history and too much fluoride in water or dental products. This article discusees ways to prevent tooth discoloration and options for whitening teeth.
Why do teeth darken?
There are several reasons why teeth may darken. These include:
- Foods/drinks: Coffee, tea, colas, wines, and certain fruits and vegetables.
- Tobacco use: Smoking or chewing tobacco can stain teeth.
- Poor dental hygiene: Inadequate brushing and flossing to remove plaque and stain-producing substances like coffee and tobacco can cause tooth discoloration.
- Disease: Several diseases that affect enamel (the hard surface of the teeth) and dentin (the underlying material under enamel) formation can lead to tooth discoloration. In addition, treatments for certain conditions can also affect tooth color. For example, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can cause teeth discoloration. In addition, certain infections in pregnant mothers can cause tooth discoloration in the infant by affecting enamel development.
- Medications: The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor teeth when given to children whose teeth are still developing (before the age of 8). Mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain your teeth. Antihistamines (like Benadryl®), antipsychotic drugs, and antihypertensive medications can also cause teeth discoloration.
- Dental materials: Some of the materials used in dentistry, such as amalgam restorations, especially silver sulfide-containing materials, can cast a gray-black color to your teeth.
- Advancing age: As you age, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away revealing the natural yellow color of dentin. Also with aging, the tooth lays down more dentin, which decreases the size of the pulp. This reduces the translucency of the tooth, which makes for a darker appearance.
- Genetics: Some people have naturally brighter or thicker enamel than others.
- Environment: Excessive fluoride either from environmental sources (naturally high fluoride levels in water) or from excessive use (fluoride applications, rinses, toothpaste, and fluoride supplements taken by mouth) can cause teeth discoloration.
- Trauma: For example, damage from a fall can disturb enamel formation in young children whose teeth are still developing. Trauma can also cause discoloration to adult teeth.