Beautiful smiles are often associated with clean white teeth. The yellowish color on the teeth even often makes many people not confident to smile broadly.

But what exactly makes a person’s teeth yellow or yellowish?

Most of the causes of yellow teeth discoloration are divided into two main categories, namely extrinsic stains and intrinsic stains.

Extrinsic Stains

The extrinsic stains referred to here are the stains that affect the enamel surface of the tooth. Enamel itself is the outer layer of hard teeth. “The first cause of yellowing teeth is the style hiduo,” said Dr. Justin Philip, a dentist in Arizona, USA. “Smoking, drinking coffee, getting stained, and chewing tobacco is the worst cause,” he continued.

1. Tobacco

Yes, as is commonly known, tar and nicotine in tobacco are chemicals that can cause yellowish stains on tooth surfaces. Tobacco have high risk to make yellow teeth for smoker.

2. Color Food

The rule of thumb for keeping teeth white is actually easy. Remember, any food and drink that can stain clothes can stain your teeth.

For that, avoid foods such as chocolate, soy sauce, red wine, cola, and so on need to be done.

In addition, foods that are high in chromogen or pigment-producing substances that can be attached to tooth enamel are also worth noting. Foods containing these substances include grapes, cherries, beets, and pomegranates.

3. Acid Food

Acid foods and drinks can promote coloration by scraping tooth enamel and making it easier for pigments to stick to teeth.

Tannin, a bitter compound found in wine and tea, also helps chromogen attaches to the enamel, which eventually causes staining.

But there’s good news for tea drinkers, a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that adding milk to tea reduces the possibility of staining teeth.

That’s because protein in milk can bind to tannins.

Intrinsic stains

The intrinsic spot occurs inside the inner tooth structure called dentin. Because of its position inside, this stain is more difficult to remove.

1. Treatment

These intrinsic stains are usually obtained from the treatment process. Some of them are tetracycline or doxycycline antibiotics.

Children who take the drug before the age of 8 years can make their teeth become yellow brown.

Not only that, pregnant women who take the drug can also make the child has a yellowish teeth.

2. Mouthwash

The use of mouthwash can also cause intrinsic stains. Especially if the mouthwash contains chlorhexidine, a compound that can reduce bacteria and treat gingivitis (gingivitis).

3. Chemotherapy

Ongoing chemotherapy treatment and radiation on the head and neck can cause intrinsic stains. Even some relatively common drugs, such as antihistamines, antipsychotics, and blood pressure medications can sometimes be yellow teeth.

4. Flouride

Although fluoride can be beneficial for teeth by strengthening the enamel and preventing decay, too many minerals are not good for the color of your teeth.

Fluorosis, which results from excessive amounts of fluoride, can cause white lines or brown spots on teeth.

5. Patch

“A lot of dental materials can cause discoloration, especially amalgam restorations (silver patches),” says Dr. Bruno Sharp, dentist from Florida.

These tooth fillings usually make the teeth are gray-black.

read also about dental caries

Other Causes

In addition to extrinsic and intrinsic stains, there are several causes of discolored teeth. Among them are genetics, age, disease, and injury.

1. Genetics

“The number one reason is genetics.The imperfection of dentinogenesis and amelogenesis imperfecta are two congenital abnormalities that cause the teeth to develop improperly and can cause discoloration,” says Dr. Edita Outericka, director of dental clinics in Massachusetts.

Heredity is also the reason why some people have natural tooth enamels that are lighter or thicker than others.

You may be born with teeth that look more yellow (or whiter) than others, Outericka says.

2. Age

The yellowish color of the teeth is also caused by age. As age increases, the enamel coating thins over time.

This makes the teeth look more yellow.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the best protection against enamel thinning is ensuring proper saliva production, which can clear food and plaque from teeth, and get enough fluoride.

3. Illness

Changing tooth color can also be caused by a disease. Infection that causes high fever as a child can also make teeth yellowing.

Severe neonatal jaundice is another possible reason for yellowed teeth, according to Outericka.

4. Injury

Falling or sports injuries in children can disrupt the formation of tooth enamel when the child’s permanent teeth are still developing. In fact, injury can produce tooth color to grayish.

Similar injuries that damage the nerves or teeth of chips in adults can also cause permanent dental changes.

In addition, people who grind their teeth excessively, often during sleep, can slowly lift the outer layer of tooth enamel that exposes the yellowish dentine underneath.


The best prevention for yellow teeth is to pay attention to what you eat and drink, and not to smoke. Proper dental cleaning is also absolutely necessary.

In addition, it is recommended to see your dentist at least twice a year.

The easiest cause of yellowed teeth is poor oral hygiene. That’s because when plaque and tarter (hardened tooth plaque) accumulate, they can make teeth look yellow. Removing the buildup before decomposing is essential to have a whiter smile and healthy teeth, according to Outericka.

“It is best to clean your teeth regularly on the professional side” said Outericka.

“It will help eliminate staining, and drinking through a straw will minimize the time the liquid sticks to the tooth surface,” he said.

We can also rinse mouth with water after eating foods or beverages that might cause stains, if brushing teeth is not possible.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here