Causes of Tooth Discoloration By Craig Goldin DDS on March 11, 2019

Discolored teethMost people wish their smile could be a little brighter and whiter. Unfortunately, the majority of dental stains and tooth discoloration do not go away with regular brushing and flossing. The good news is that cosmetic dentistry treatments can enhance the overall appearance of the smile and improve the color of the teeth.

At the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute, our dentists recommend treatment based on what caused the tooth discoloration and whether the stains are extrinsic (meaning they exist on the outer layer of tooth enamel) or intrinsic (meaning they exist on the inner layer of dentin). All the most common causes of tooth discoloration can be addressed at our Troy, MI dental practice.

Foods and Beverages

There’s a popular saying, you are what you eat. Indeed, the smile can reflect what a person eats. Certain foods and beverages are known to cause dental stains and discoloration.

Foods and beverages that are dark in color and highly acidic are the most likely to alter the color of the teeth, especially if a person consumes them regularly. Some of the most staining foods and beverages include berries, citrus fruits, coffee, wine, and colas. Fortunately, these types of stains are extrinsic and respond well to professional teeth whitening.

Poor Oral Hygiene Habits

Brushing and flossing may not be able to eliminate most dental stains, but they can prevent many of them. The best way to preserve the color of the teeth is by brushing after every meal, or at least twice a day.

If a person neglects at-home dental care and professional dental cleanings, they are more likely to suffer from tooth decay, acid erosion, and tooth discoloration. Poor oral hygiene habits increase the risk of extrinsic and intrinsic dental stains.

Dental Trauma

Oral injuries threaten the inner and outer structure of the tooth. Even if there is no obvious structural damage after an injury or accident, the roots of the tooth may have been affected.

If the roots of a tooth have been significantly damaged, the tooth is likely to change color within a few days of the injury. Gray or brown discoloration of a single tooth is a sign that the roots have been damaged.

Root canal therapy and the placement of a dental crown is the best way to restore the function and appearance of a tooth that has suffered from dental trauma.


Smoking and tobacco use can harm the body in a number of ways, one of which is by compromising the appearance of the teeth. The tar and nicotine in cigarettes and chewing tobacco leave stains and cause general tooth discoloration.

The discoloration left behind when a person smokes does respond to teeth whitening treatment because it mainly effects the outer layer of tooth enamel. However, if a person continues to smoke, discoloration will gradually redevelop.

Wear and Tear

Another common culprit of tooth discoloration is general wear and tear. The teeth continually bite and breakdown foods. Although the teeth are strong, they will weaken over time.

As enamel wears down, it becomes more susceptible to stains and discoloration. Furthermore, as the enamel gets thinner, the inner layer of dentin is more likely to show through.

Dentin is not the same white color of enamel, so the teeth may begin to look gray or yellow. Tooth discoloration related to wear and tear may improve with teeth whitening treatment, but prosthetics like porcelain veneers provide more effective results.

Contact Us

If your smile has lost its luster, and you’d like to restore the bright, white color of your teeth, contact us at your earliest convenience. The experienced dental team at the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute can customize a treatment plan to give you the bright, attractive smile you desire. Call (248) 519-1919 to learn more about our dental services.

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Drs. Goldin and Whalen

Cosmetic Dentistry Institute

Drs. Craig Goldin, Marcy Goldin, and David Whalen in Troy, MI, have created a spa-like atmosphere where you can relax while receiving gentle dental care. Our team specializes in a range of general dentistry treatments, including:

To schedule an appointment at our office serving Birmingham, Bloomfield, and the greater Detroit metropolitan area, contact us online, or call (248) 519-1919 today!

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"Dr. Craig Goldin, Dr. Marcy Goldin and Dr. David Whalen have earned the privilege of being noted among the world’s best, most knowledgeable cosmetic dentistry experts."

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