Why Do Your Teeth Look Discolored? An Explainer

The big night has finally arrived. You’ve got your outfit on, your hair fixed and your tickets in hand. You have the time of your life with your friends. On your way out of the venue, you decide to take a photo together. You’re scrolling through the snapshots back at home when you notice it: your teeth look dull, transparent and even a little gray. What is happening?

 

We’ve all been there: the sudden realization that our teeth are looking less-than-stellar. As we age, natural changes to the teeth can cause a dull or discolored appearance. For some of us, our teeth take on a gray appearance.

 

Why is this?

 

Let’s take a look.

You’ve Taken Certain Medications

Certain medications, like tetracycline and linezolid, cause tooth discoloration. If you’ve taken tetracycline, the discoloration may be grayish. For those who have taken linezolid, the discoloration may appear dark brown. Dental discoloration may also exist in the babies of women who took tetracycline during pregnancy.

 

Linezolid staining can be removed with professional dental cleaning and whitening services. Tetracycline staining, on the other hands, is more stubborn. Professional whitening done by a dentist may help reduce the stains. For the worst tetracycline stains, however, veneers may be necessary.

Your Enamel is Thinning

When tooth enamel is worn away through age, drinking acidic beverages and sodas and eating acidic foods, the interior of the tooth can show through.

When the enamel is worn away, it can’t be regrown. A tooth with thin enamel might look gray or transparent, giving your smile a discolored look.

Your Tooth Has Experienced Trauma

Dental trauma--like being hit in the mouth or involved in an accident where your mouth was injured--can cause damage to the nerves of one or more teeth. If the nerve within the tooth dies, a brown or gray discoloration can affect the tooth’s appearance. Trauma can also interrupt a tooth’s blood flow, resulting in a discolored appearance.

You’re a Smoker

Smoking cigarettes causes what is known as extrinsic staining--that is, stains that appear on the outer layer of the tooth and can be removed by professional whitening.

 

Cigarettes contain tar, nicotine and other carcinogens that create a dull yellow staining on the teeth over time. These stains can be unsightly. Some smokers report not wanting to smile for fear of others seeing their teeth.

 

Coffee, soda and other dark-colored beverages can also cause tooth staining, though these stains are easier to remove with regular brushing.

 

Have more questions about dental health and wellness? Check our blog regularly for updates!

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