In the field of cosmetic dentistry, teeth whitening and teeth discoloration are topics of discussion for patients seeking that”hollywood” white smile.  Not only does being able to show the world your pearly whites give you more self-confidence, but it projects an outward appearance of healthiness that attracts others and a number of other benefits.  

So why do most of our teeth get darker and stained over time? We’ve gathered 10 leading causes that may impact the color of your teeth….. Let’s get started!

Types of Tooth Discoloration

Your teeth can become stained or discolored on the surface, which is known as extrinsic, or by changes within the tooth, which is called intrinsic. Age-related staining is a combination of both extrinsic and intrinsic discolorations.

Extrinsic: Extrinsic discoloration occurs when the outer layer of tooth, the enamel, is stained.

Intrinsic: Intrinsic discoloration is when the inside structure of the tooth, the dentin, gradually darkens.

Age-Related: Age-related discoloration has both extrinsic and intrinsic causes. As a person ages, the enamel gets thinner, allowing the dentin to show through. The aging process also causes the dentin to darken or yellow, which can become visible as the enamel thins.

Causes of Teeth Discoloration

Many different things can result in tooth discoloration. This discoloration may appear as an entire surface discoloration, spots or lines on a tooth, or small stained areas. The following are the most common causes of tooth discoloration:

1. Diet influence

It’s pretty obvious that your diet plays a huge part in teeth discoloration. Certain consumables like coffee, tea, certain fruits, and red wine are often mentioned in this discussion, but even white wine has been proven to bring out and darken old stains. Food and drinks that are very acidic or sugary tend to also weaken the tooth enamel and can expose the yellowish dentin underneath. All these foods and beverages are okay in moderation, but just make sure you take care of your teeth in the process to limit the damage.

2. Brush Regularly

For most people, brushing their teeth is viewed as just another chore so it either doesn’t get done properly or done at all. Dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day, or better yet, after every meal and to floss at least, once a day. Bacteria is continuously gathering in the mouth so make sure you keep it clean and limit the plaque build up. 

3. Excessive Brushing

Are you a brushing over achiever? All the excessive brushing could be doing more damage than good. Recent studies have shown that those same toothpastes that have whitening agents can actually damage the tooth enamel if used too much as some may contain abrasive chemicals.  

4. Genetics

Some of us were born with tooth enamel that is thicker or ultra-white and some of us weren’t… It’s all part of the genetics game. If you’re part of the latter group, hopefully your parents gave you some other physical traits you can be proud of!

5. Drugs are bad. Well sort of…

Certain medications can actually have the unfortunate side effect of spreading through the body and darkening your teeth. This shouldn’t stop you from taking your prescribed medication because your overall health is more important, but it’s worth noting.  There’s a list of some drugs to be aware of, but be sure to ask your prescribing doctor or dentist for their professional opinion. 

6. Smoking is bad and that’s a fact

It should be common sense by now that smoking is pretty much bad all around. The nicotine and tar in tobacco are the causes for the discoloration. Smoking cigarettes or cigars, and chewing tobacco not only cause periodontal disease, it can cause the teeth to discolor as well. 

7.Certain Diseases

Some conditions can result in tooth staining, such as anemia. Treatments for certain diseases can also cause discoloration, such as neck radiation.


Certain forms of trauma or injury can cause teeth to become discolored, especially during childhood as the teeth are still forming.

9.Environmental Factors

Excessive exposure to fluoride and various other environmental factors can contribute to tooth discoloration.


Age plays a factor. Unfortunately, your age isn’t the only thing that changes with time, so does your teeth. As you get older, the outer layer of your tooth’s enamel begins to wear down. When this stage happens, the natural yellow/brown color, called dentin, reveals itself. The tooth begins to produce more dentin, which decreases the size of the pulp and makes the tooth appear darker.


Over time all of our tooth enamel will begin to lose its luster, but hopefully by reading this article you’ll be able to preserve your pearly whites for as long as possible. With different treatment options ranging from a variety of toothbrushes, whitening systems, veneers, and other cosmetic dentistry treatments, Dr.Miski has something for everyone.