Why Do Teeth Become Discolored with Age?

Feb 07, 2024
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It’s not your imagination — your teeth aren’t as white and bright as they used to be. There are several common culprits behind yellowing and dull teeth as you age, and we explore them here.

You look back on photos from when you were younger and marvel at how bright and white your teeth appeared. These days, they’re a little duller and maybe discolored, and you didn’t even realize it was happening. 

More than 35 million Americans whiten their teeth each year for many reasons, and age-related tooth discoloration leads the charge. 

At Pure Smiles, Dr. Leila Shahbazi and our team offer comprehensive cosmetic dentistry services that address one of the biggest complaints among our patients — discolored teeth. 

In the following, we explore why age can take its toll on the color of your teeth and how we can help revitalize and makeover your smile.

A matter of enamel

The key to white teeth is thick enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth. Enamel is a tough material that not only safeguards your teeth but also gives them their white coloring.

Over time and with wear and tear, your enamel can thin, allowing the brownish/yellowish dentin inside your teeth to show through increasingly. That’s what can give your teeth an overall yellowing effect.

A matter of staining

When your enamel thins, it’s also less resistant to staining. These stains can pile up over the years and discolor your teeth, especially if you:

  • Drink coffee, tea, and/or red wine regularly
  • Eat a lot of berries or other foods that can stain teeth
  • Smoke or chew tobacco
  • Drink artificially flavored sodas 
  • Routinely suck on hard candies that have dyes in them

These foods and habits leave their marks under the best circumstances, but when your enamel becomes less resistant with age, they can discolor your teeth more easily.

However, when you see us twice yearly for professional cleaning appointments, we can stay on top of this extrinsic staining.

Other issues can cause discoloration in your teeth, such as trauma that leads to a dead and darkened tooth, but we’re focusing on those that are age-related, which boils down to thinning enamel and staining.

Getting back to white teeth

Our first defense against discolored and dull teeth is professional teeth whitening. Using medical-grade bleaching agents, we can whiten and brighten your teeth by several shades in just one visit to our office.

If we can’t tackle the discoloration with professional teeth whitening, we can turn to other effective options, such as:

  • Porcelain veneers
  • Inlays and onlays
  • Dental bonding
  • Dental crowns

Each technique works well for covering up discolored and stained teeth, giving you a smile backed by brilliantly white teeth.

If you’d like to figure out which approach is best for your less-than-white teeth, we invite you to contact our office in Scottsdale, Arizona, to make an appointment.