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Causes of Yellow Teeth

Your dentist for Chino Hills, Dr. David S. Han, and his team are proud to provide patients of all ages with high quality care and excellence through personalized dental treatment. Dr. Han has a unique background in dentistry and gnatholgy, allowing our practice to offer dental treatments that combine precision, health, comfort and beauty for each patient we serve.

Since your smile is one of the first things people notice about you, it’s natural to want to avoid tooth discoloration and keep your smile bright and white. However, it is common for teeth to discolor and turn yellow over time, which detracts from your smile.

There are many causes of yellow, stained, or discolored teeth. Some of these are directly under your control while others may not be avoidable. Here are some of the most common culprits that cause teeth to become yellow, discolored and stained.


Some drinks such as coffee, tea, dark colas and red wine contain chromogens, which are pigment-producing substances that stick to tooth enamel. When these beverages are consumed regularly, they can turn darken and discolor teeth. Even certain foods like blueberries, curry and dark sauces can stain and discolor teeth.

Tobacco Usage

Smoking is a major cause of tooth discoloration and staining. The smoke passing over the teeth leads to the enamel becoming yellowed and stained and especially on the front and most prominent teeth. Even the use of chewing tobacco stains teeth as the mix of smokeless tobacco and saliva leads to extrinsic staining over time.


As we grow older, the mineral structure of our teeth becomes less porous which can lead to discoloration of the teeth. The tooth enamel also becomes thinner to expose the yellowish dentin underneath to make teeth yellow colored in appearance.


Much like your complexion or color of your eyes, you may be born with teeth that appear more yellow than other people’s teeth. Part of this has to do with how thick the enamel is on your teeth, which is semi-translucent. For example, if you have thin enamel, your teeth may appear yellowish due to the yellow color of the dentin under the enamel showing through.

Medications and Supplements

Some types of medications have been linked to causing tooth yellowing and discoloration. For instance, people who took the antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline during childhood may have yellow or discolored teeth as a consequence. Some blood pressure medication, antihistamines and anti-psychotic drugs also can discolor teeth.


While fluoride is helpful in protecting teeth against decay, excessive amounts of it can cause staining of the teeth, which is called fluorosis.

Inadequate Oral Hygiene

Teeth can become discolored and dull due to a lack of good overall oral hygiene. If plaque is not brushed or flossed away and left to linger on the tooth surfaces, it can lead to tooth discoloration and dullness.

Preventing Yellow Teeth

You can prevent your teeth from turning yellow by avoiding the things that cause teeth to become yellowed and discolored. For example, if you use tobacco, kick the habit once and for all. If you drink teeth-staining beverages regularly, steer clear of these drinks or at least use a straw as sipping through a straw results in less of the drink flowing over tooth surfaces. If you are not brushing and flossing well, change your habits so you do maintain good oral hygiene to keep tooth discoloration, dullness and staining under control.

Solutions to Yellow Teeth

Our practice offers teeth whitening in Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, and the surrounding communities. Teeth whitening, or bleaching as it is also called, is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment that can significantly lighten your teeth.

One of the most effective and safest ways to whiten your teeth is through office-monitored home bleaching. We will make custom molded whitening trays that fit over your teeth using an impression of your teeth. During your office visit, Dr. Han will be sure the trays fit correctly and will show you how to load them with the special whitening gel containing carbamide peroxide (15%). You will be instructed to wear the gel-filled trays at home for 2.5 hours a day for two to three weeks. Then after one week, you will visit us again so Dr. Han can check your progress.

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