Learn More From Our Saint Louis Dentists About How And Why Dental Enamel Becomes Darker Over Time

Written by Dr. Grayem on Aug 8, 2023

If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and thought, “whose teeth are those?” you’re not alone. Many dental patients report that their teeth, seemingly suddenly, start to look dark or stained: making their smiles look older than their years. Keep reading to learn more from our Saint Louis dentists about why dental discoloration occurs; we hope that this information helps you protect your smile from unwelcome aesthetic changes!

Dental enamel is the outermost covering of your tooth—basically, when you look at your tooth, you’re seeing dental enamel! Healthy and thick dental enamel appears as some shade of white; natural dental shades vary from person to person.

One reason that your teeth may start to look discolored is because they have accumulated environmental stains. Certain foods and drinks can leave color deposits on the dental enamel, and over time these deposits compound. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, red wine, and red sauces can all contribute to staining. As you would imagine, the more you’re able to limit your consumption of staining foods and drinks, the less likely you are to develop stains. You can also get into the habit of rinsing your mouth with water after eating or drinking.

Sometimes teeth begin to look yellow or dark because the dental enamel itself has started to thin and wear away. There is a layer of tooth under the dental enamel that is called the dentin, and this layer is naturally darker and yellower than healthy enamel. So, as enamel thins, more of the dentin is able to show through to the smile’s surface, thus making teeth look yellow and dull. In these cases, topical dental whitening formulations may not be effective; talk to your dentist about aesthetic materials—like composite resin and porcelain—that can cover diminished and unattractive teeth.

Although dental discoloration is very common, it is by no means something that you have to live with forever. Our St. Louis cosmetic dentists provide a number of treatment options for lightening and brightening smiles. If you want to learn more you can always call our team, or use the Contact Us page on our website in order to submit your question and your contact information. We look forward to speaking with you!