Discolored teeth can happen for a number of reasons. In the field of dentistry, these causes are split into intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. Intrinsic stains are caused by problems that start in the dentin, which is the inner structure of the tooth. These changes usually happen because of medications, medical treatments, and aging. Conversely, extrinsic stains are caused by lifestyle factors such as food, drink, and smoking. 

Intrinsic stains are harder to remove than extrinsic stains because the cause of the problem is often irreversible or difficult to solve. To help shed more light on why teeth may be yellow before booking an appointment for teeth whitening in Chattanooga, here are more in-depth discussions on the different causes so that people can adjust their personal habits and prevent discoloration accordingly.

Your eating habits

There are so many foods and beverages that can cause discoloration. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and wine are beverages that can leave stains. Foods that are highly pigmented, such as cherries and chocolate, are also well-known causes of discoloration. 

Most of the time, food can also stick to the teeth or in between the crevices. This creates an environment conducive for the growth of bacteria, which results in a yellowed or browned set of teeth. 

Your smoking habits

Tobacco and nicotine are known to be bad for overall well being, so it’s no surprise that it can also have a negative effect on oral hygiene. The longer a person smokes throughout their lifetime, the darker their teeth become. 

Aside from stained teeth, it can also damage the gums and salivary glands. Stains that are caused by smoking are the hardest extrinsic factors to remed.

Your genetic makeup

Some people may have a genetic predisposition to yellower teeth. This is caused by having enamel that is thinner than usual. Since the layer of enamel—which is a lighter color—cannot adequately cover the inner structure of the tooth, more of the yellow color that is found in dentin can be seen. 

Your age

Normal wear and tear caused by using your teeth throughout a person’s lifespan can have an effect on the enamel of their teeth, causing the yellow dentin to become more prominent. Older people may also have existing stains caused by other factors, which make the yellowing more pronounced.

The pulp, which is found inside the tooth, can also start calcifying, which makes the tooth look more opaque and discolored. The process of calcifying can also start faster if the teeth have been subject to trauma, which is another factor behind yellow teeth.

Your oral hygiene

It can be difficult to remember to brush, floss, and rinse regularly. However, this routine plays an important part in preventing high-pigmented foods and beverages from building up. In addition, it also prevents a buildup of plaque. If plaque remains in the mouth for an extended period of time, it hardens and turns into tartar. This is a yellowish crust that causes discoloration. 

Both plaque and tartar excrete acids that damage the enamel, which also leads to yellow teeth. 


Since there are so many factors that can have an impact on oral hygiene and teeth discoloration, dentists strongly recommend brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly. It can be difficult to stick to this routine, especially on busy days, but it does help prevent negative effects that can have a long-term impact on personal health and wellbeing. 

The Shallowford Family Dental Group is a group of dentists in Chattanooga, Texas. We offer a variety of dental services and have been serving the community since 1940. If you need a reliable dentist with years of experience under their belt, give us a call so we can help you cater to your dental needs!

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