Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness as You Age?

Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness as You Age?

Teeth tend to grow yellowish or generally darker as you age, and it’s usually a direct result of your body’s natural aging process. Here at Tenth Street Family Dental, our talented and highly skilled cosmetic and general dentists understand the root causes of age-related teeth discoloration — and we also know what you can do to get a brighter, whiter smile. 

This February, our blog covers both topics, so you can learn how to get back to a smile you love. 

Types of tooth discoloration 

There are two main types of tooth discoloration, and knowing a bit about each is important in understanding the source of age-related tooth darkening. These types are:

Extrinsic stains

Extrinsic tooth stains are those that occur within the enamel (the outer “shell” of your teeth). They can develop as a result of foods and drinks, like coffee, tea, dark sodas, and tomato sauce. Another common cause of extrinsic tooth stains is cigarette smoking.

Intrinsic tooth stains

Intrinsic tooth stains develop inside the teeth, specifically in the dentin (the layer underneath the enamel). The dentin is naturally yellowish in color, but when stains set in, it grows darker. Intrinsic tooth stains can develop because of tooth injury, excessive fluoride in childhood, antibiotic overuse, and genetics. 

Causes of age-related tooth discoloration

Many people who experience tooth discoloration have a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic stains. There can be multiple reasons for having a combination of stains. 

First, your tooth enamel naturally thins as you age. This allows the dentin to show through more prominently, which is why teeth look yellowish or darker than they did before. 

Your dentin also darkens as you age. This happens when the tooth’s inner pulp chamber (containing the blood vessels and nerves) shrinks and the dentin grows thicker and more prominent as a result.

 Additionally, you make less saliva as you age. Your saliva is rich in important tooth-nourishing minerals that help protect your enamel. However, with less saliva, your teeth are increasingly vulnerable to staining from foods, beverages, and smoking. 

Solutions for tooth discoloration 

There are several ways to fight age-related tooth discoloration, starting with your diet and daily habits. Although you can’t stop the clock, you can certainly control some of the main factors that lead to tooth discoloration. 

We recommend limiting dark beverages and other foods and drinks that can lead to tooth stains. Of course, we also highly recommend quitting smoking, the sooner the better. It can help your teeth stay whiter and also helps prevent many serious health risks later in life. 

We also offer professional teeth whitening at Tenth Street Family Dental, with options for in-office whitening (results in around 30-90 minutes) and tray whitening at home (results in a few weeks). 

For tougher intrinsic stains, teeth whitening might not be adequate to get the results you’d like. In those situations, we might recommend a method of cosmetic tooth restoration like custom-crafted veneers

No matter what path you choose, we’re here to help you get your smile back and keep it looking bright and healthy for the long term. 

Ready to tackle your tooth discoloration? Call us to schedule your consultation at Tenth Street Family Dental, or connect with us online now.

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