Causes of Tooth Discoloration By Bruce Wilderman on February 13, 2019

Split image compares discolored teeth with white teethDiscolored teeth can detract from an otherwise attractive smile. There are many causes of tooth discoloration; some are genetic, others are environmental.

At Artistic Expressions Dentistry, Dr. Bruce Wilderman and our team in Philadelphia, PA offer custom cosmetic dentistry treatments to minimize discoloration and leave your teeth dramatically whiter. Our office employs two advanced whitening treatment options: KöR and Zoom!®.

Before patients undergo treatment, we want them to be educated about the causes of tooth stains so they can avoid them in the future.

Dark-colored Foods and Drinks

Coffee, tea, wine, and sodas are all known to stain the teeth. Drinking these beverages through a straw can limit their contact with the teeth.

Certain fruits (such as dark berries) and vegetables (such as tomatoes) are more likely to stain the teeth.

After eating or drinking anything that can cause tooth discoloration, rinse the mouth out with water. When you can, brush your teeth to remove food and drink particles from the teeth. 


Whether smoked or chewed, tobacco can leave undesirable stains on your teeth.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Beyond sparing patients from cavities and periodontitis, brushing and flossing removes plaque, which can reduce the onset of tooth discoloration.

Some Medical Conditions

Certain conditions, including metabolic disease, calcium deficiency, and liver disease, can cause tooth discoloration.


Some antibiotics (such as tetracycline and doxycycline), mouth rinses (such as those containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride), and other medications can cause tooth discoloration.

Excessive Fluoride Use

Though most municipalities supplement public drinking water with fluoride, most overexposure to fluoride occurs through the overuse of dental products that contain fluoride.


Trauma, especially at an early age, can permanently damage adult teeth. This can cause a single tooth to look more yellow or brown than the surrounding teeth.

Though some causes of tooth discoloration cannot be avoided, regular brushing and limiting certain foods and drinks are two easy ways to cut back on potential tooth discoloration.

Types of Tooth Discoloration

There are three ways that tooth enamel can become discolored.

  1. One common reason is extrinsic discoloration. This results from drink or food particles that stain the outer layer of teeth. Coffee is a frequent cause of extrinsic stains.
  2. Intrinsic discoloration occurs when the structure of the tooth itself darkens. Exposure to certain medications and injury to the tooth are common causes of this type of discoloration.
  3. Age-related discoloration results from the cumulative effects of aging (exposure to stains, thinning enamel, natural yellowing of dentin, tooth damage).

Treatments for Discolored Teeth

We offer treatment to remove stains or mask them with a custom prosthetic.

We have take-home and in-office whitening treatments. Depending on the severity of your case, you may need as few as one or multiple whitening treatments in order to reach your goal. We will detemine if you are better suited to KöR or Zoom!® whitening treatment.

For cases of severely discolored or damaged teeth, we may recommend porcelain veneers. Custom-fit veneers are placed on the front of your teeth and last around 15 years. The porcelain prosthetics are custom built to match the color of your natural teeth, and they can be manufactured to a whiter shade if desired.

Let Artistic Expressions Dentistry Brighten Your Smile

Brushing isn’t always enough. Genetics, age, and the environment can all discolor the teeth. Dr. Wilderman offers advanced whitening treatments, porcelain veneers, and other cosmetic and restorative dental treatments to address discolored teeth.

To learn more about our teeth whitening services, contact our office online or call us at (215) 340-1199.

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Dr. Wilderman on cover of suburban life

Artistic Expressions Dentistry

Dr. Bruce Wilderman has been providing comprehensive cosmetic dentistry services since 1986. By combining a true sense of artistry with state-of-the-art technology, he can provide stunning results. At Artistic Expressions Dentistry, we are proud to be affiliated with:

  • The American Dental Association
  • The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry

For more information about our services, contact our practice online or call (215) 340-1199 today.

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