What Does the Color of Teeth Depend On?


The color of the teeth is unique to each individual and is determined by a variety of factors including age, genetics, lifestyle, diet, dental structure, overall health and more. Many strive for a perfectly white smile, influenced by the covers of glossy magazines and advertising on TV. However, this shade is not always natural and is often the result of environmental factors. Let's figure out what factors can affect the color change of the teeth.

What Can Cause Teeth Color to Change?

According to statistics, about 85% of the young population faces the problem of changing the color of tooth enamel. Often it is men who suffer from pigmentation than women. Genetic predisposition is the most common cause of tooth discoloration, since the natural shade of enamel and dentin, which determines the color of teeth, is determined genetically. From birth, people can have light or dark enamel. Although this process cannot be influenced, modern dental methods make it possible to lighten the surface layer.

Internal pigmentation of the enamel layer can be caused by certain diseases, such as fluorosis, hypoplasia or fungal infections. Metabolic disorders, anemia, lack of vitamins and minerals, as well as some diseases of the digestive system and osteoporosis can also affect the color of a person’s smile. Heavy metals can cause poisoning and worsen the color of the dentine.

Lifestyle and diet can also affect the color of teeth; for example, smoking can cause a hard-to-remove film to form on the enamel, making it looser and yellowish, brown or grey. Strong tea, coffee and red wine, which contain anthocyanins, can also stain tooth enamel. Dyes are present in chocolate, colored sodas, various sauces, berries, industrial sweets, vegetables and fruits. Insufficient hygiene with frequent use of such products can lead to a change in original color of the teeth.

Discoloration of tooth enamel and dentin can be caused by metabolic disorders, chemotherapy, and certain types of medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and tetracycline antibiotics.

Do Teeth Have To Be White?

The natural color of the teeth is usually transparent and can vary depending on genetic factors. Some people's teeth are naturally white, while others may have a slightly yellowish tint. Usually this color remains unchanged even without drinking coffee or cigarettes. However, in some patients, the enamel may have a whiter tint with a hint of blue, which, it should be noted, makes it more fragile and susceptible to damage. If your teeth suddenly become darker, it is likely due to a breakdown in the composition of the dentin.

The teeth color depends not only on external influences, but also on internal factors. Regular dental exams, cleanings, and proper oral care can help keep your teeth healthy and beautiful, regardless of their shade. It is critical to recognize that beyond simple aesthetics, overall dental health and functionality play a key role in oral well-being.

How to Avoid Tooth Discoloration

If you observe any changes in the color of your teeth, it's crucial to promptly consult your NY dentist since this could indicate various issues such as tooth decay, staining from substances like coffee or tobacco, and other potential conditions. Addressing darkened teeth involves tailoring treatment based on the underlying causes. Prior to crafting a personalized treatment approach, the dentist conducts a thorough diagnostic process, which may involve an examination along with additional assessments like x-rays.

Here are some ways to help avoid or reduce color alteration:

  • Brushing your teeth regularly after every meal will help remove food debris and pigments that can cause discoloration of your teeth.
  • Limit consumption of pigmented foods such as coffee, tea, red wine, etc., which can affect the color of teeth.
  • Avoid smoking because of nicotine, which is one of the main causes of yellow teeth.
  • Regular visits to your dentist for professional cleanings and dental health checks will help prevent the buildup of plaque and pigments that can lead to tooth discoloration.
  • Use teeth whitening products with caution to avoid over-whitening, sensitivity and other problems.
  • A nutritious diet with fruits and vegetables that promote saliva production and natural teeth cleaning.
  • Use a soft toothbrush and toothpastes without abrasives to avoid wearing down your enamel and reduce the risk of tooth discoloration. Remember that the health of your smile is in your hands.

Article Approved by:

Sean Lynn Oral Surgeon, DDS