What factors influence the color of teeth?

Peggy Rosen

Factors that influence the color of teeth are:

  1. Hereditary
  2. Age
  3. Food and beverages intake; consuming colored food and beverages often
  4. Improper cleaning of your teeth
  5. Trauma to a certain tooth 
  6. Excessive fluoride taken during tooth formation
  7. Taken tetracycline during tooth formation
  8. Tobacco user
  9. Type of fillings used
Several factors can influence the color of teeth. Stains on the enamel can result from regularly drinking coffee, wine, or cola, or from smoking.

In some cases, taking certain antibiotics as a young child can cause your teeth to discolor. Your teeth might be discolored if your mother took tetracycline antibiotics in the latter half of her pregnancy. Discoloration also can occur from an injury to a permanent tooth.

Age-related tooth discoloration is a fact of life. The teeth naturally turn yellower over time as enamel wears down, allowing the yellowish dentin underneath to show through.
Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
Even if we all never smoked or drank red wine and avoided staining foods altogether, we still wouldn't share the same tooth color. Original tooth shades are genetically pre-determined. However, dozens of factors influence it.

Along with genetics, color-influencing factors can be congenital, metabolic, chemical, infectious and environmental. If any of these factors came in contact with your teeth before you reached the age of eight or nine, the chances of your teeth being affected in some way were higher because they were still forming at that point, so they were far more vulnerable to outside disturbances. These childhood "disturbances" range from having taken medications like tetracycline, having high fevers, exposure to excessive amounts of fluoride (whether from water, fluoride supplements, or even overzealous use of rinses and toothpastes), and inadequate oral hygiene.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.