What Causes Dulling and Discoloration of Teeth?

cosmetic dentistry DentonCosmetic dentistry concerns the appearance of teeth, not just for health but also for a happier smile. There are many potential causes that can lead to dulled or discolored teeth, and a cosmetic dentist can discuss these during a consultation visit to assess the needs of each individual patient. While genetic factors are a possibility, the most common causes of discoloration or dulled coloring of teeth stem from behavior, health, or age.

Aging typically sees wearing away of the enamel as a natural occurrence over time, and as the enamel wears down the yellowish color of the inner tooth (dentin) becomes visible.

Health conditions that require medication can sometimes include side effects of discoloration to teeth. Certain antibiotics taken in childhood or during pregnancy can lead to discoloration in children’s teeth, such as tetracycline. The antibiotics affect the teeth as they’re forming, leaving the resultant discoloration or dulled color.  The traditional silver fillings for cavities have also been known to create a dulled color to teeth, especially when the filling is large. [pullquote]…food and beverage choices can lead to increased surface stains as well as decreased enamel.[/pullquote]

Smoking habits contribute to significant discoloration of teeth, especially the front teeth where the contact with cigarette smoke and tar is greatest. While nutrition certainly plays a part in overall health, including the health of teeth, food and beverage choices can lead to increased surface stains as well as decreased enamel. Acidic substances weaken enamel and high-sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods contribute to increased bacteria in the mouth, which leads to dental caries or cavities in conjunction with the weakened enamel. Brushing or at least rinsing out the mouth after eating can reduce these risks.

Behavioral factors include poor or insufficient brushing, flossing, and oral health habits. Dentists can often detect signs that a patient needs guidance to improve brushing habits at home and will train patients to care for their teeth before and after any cosmetic treatments. Bleaching or whitening teeth alone may not always be an option, and the dentist will discuss possible enhancement options for each individual patient.

For more information on caring for, enhancing, and maintaining beautiful, healthy teeth, contact our experienced cosmetic dental team today!