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SW Nebraska Dental Center

Let’s Talk about Not-So White Teeth

October 5, 2022
Posted By: Kaitlin Haag

Let’s talk about not so white teeth!

Have you ever wondered why some people have a bright white smile and others don’t?  There are many reasons why some easily keep their pearly whites shining bright and others struggle.

Here are some reasons why teeth stain, discolor and darken!

Diseases and Medical Treatments

Examples of medicines that might darken teeth are, the antibiotics; tetracycline and doxycycline when taken under the age of 8, certain chemotherapies, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medications.  Chlorhexidine and Cetylpyridinium chloride mouth rinses or washes can also stain teeth.


Through the natural aging process, as the outer layer of enamel is worn away it exposes the yellow dentin.  Also, as you age, the size of the tooth pulp decreases due to your yellow tooth dentin growing.

Dental Materials

Some materials used to repair teeth can stain them.  Amalgam restorations and materials containing silver sulfide can give teeth a gray-black appearance.

Using Tobacco Products

 Smoking or using other tobacco products causes black tar to build up and causes staining.

Poor Home Care

Plaque and food stains build up when you are lackadaisical about taking care of your chompers.  Brushing and flossing regularly will help stop the staining process.  Also, coming in to the dental office for professional cleaning can also help with staining. 

Tooth Trauma

Tooth trauma happens most often when kids are playing sports or engaging in activities such as jumping on a trampoline or riding bikes.  If they are younger than 8, the trauma can cause damage and disturb enamel formation.  Discoloration can also happen to adult teeth when an impact to a tooth causes blood flow to decrease to the tooth or the nerve to die.


Drinking certain beverages and eating certain foods can cause staining.  When drinking things such as, coffee, tea, soda, eating starchy food like pasta or potatoes, rinse with water and brush your teeth to cut down on discoloration.


Good looks aren’t the only thing you can get from your family.  You can also inherit thicker and whiter teeth enamel.


Like in all things, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.  Fluoride is great for preventing tooth decay by strengthening enamel.  Unfortunately, an excessive amount of fluoride can cause fluorosis, which causes tooth discoloration.  Fluorosis looks like permanent white spots on the teeth.  Fluorosis happens when fluoride levels in the water are too high or there is an excessive use of fluoride applications, rinses and toothpaste.


Tooth discoloration can happen for all sorts of reasons.  The good news is there are also many remedies to help brighten your teeth.  In office whitening treatments, take home whitening trays, over the counter whitening strips, or using a whitening tooth paste are all ways you can help keep your smile a brighter white.  Call us today with any questions or to schedule!



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