Why Our Teeth Turn Yellow (And What To Do About It)

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website.
Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

No one likes to look in the mirror only to find a set of yellow teeth staring back at them. A slight yellow tint is normal, but if your teeth are getting especially tainted, it may be a sign that you need to adjust your oral care routine. So, what causes teeth to yellow, and what can you do about it?

Your teeth mbay turn yellow due to certain foods and drinks, medications, or tooth damage. The best way to prevent tooth discoloration is to avoid foods that stain your teeth and to practice proper oral hygiene. You can also use whitening treatments or visit a dentist for a professional whitening.

Let’s take a closer look at what causes your teeth to turn yellow, whether it’s a major problem, and some ways to prevent and treat teeth discoloration. 

What Causes Yellow Teeth? 

Teeth of woman with white veneers on lower and her yellow upper teeth

While most people associate yellow teeth with poor oral hygiene, there are a range of causes of yellow teeth. Certain foods and drinks may cause yellow stains on your teeth, as will smoking, certain medications, and damage to the tooth enamel. In some cases, your teeth may also naturally have a yellowish shade.

Some of the common causes of yellow teeth include: 

Thin Tooth Enamel 

If your tooth enamel is thinner, it may expose the dentin underneath, giving your teeth a yellow shade. People with sensitive teeth are more likely to have yellow teeth since they have a thinner layer of enamel. 

However, your teeth’s enamel may also wear away due to poor oral hygiene, consuming sugary or acidic foods, or even accidents that affect the teeth. 

Foods and Drinks 

Certain foods and drinks may cause your teeth to get yellow stains. Tomatoes, potatoes, and even apples can leave yellow stains on your teeth, although artificial flavorings and food coloring will leave more permanent stains. 

Certain drinks are more likely to stain your teeth than solid foods. Coffee, tea, and colas are the main culprits, although certain types of wine may also leave semi-permanent yellow stains on your teeth. 


If you’re looking for another reason to quit smoking, then add yellow teeth to your list! The tobacco inside cigarettes can stain your teeth with yellow or brown shades. If you’re a regular smoker, brushing your teeth won’t get rid of these stains, and the only long-term solution is to quit smoking. 


Certain antibiotics and other medications can sometimes cause your teeth to turn yellow. However, discoloration from regular antibiotics is rare in adults and more common in children.

Unfortunately, antibiotics can cause semi-permanent tooth discoloration that’s difficult to treat even with teeth whitening products. 

Genetic Factors 

If your teeth stay yellow even after brushing regularly, it may just be their natural color. Dentin is the main tissue that makes up your teeth and is naturally yellow.

While the outer enamel may be a mix of blue and white shades, your teeth may have a more yellowish shade, and that’s nothing to worry about. 

Stains vs. Thin Enamel: How to Tell the Difference

If your teeth are discolored by stains from food, medication, or smoking, you can usually remove the stains with whitening products. However, if the enamel is worn out, whitening your teeth won’t be easy.

Worn-out enamel can also cause sensitivity and requires professional care. But how do you tell whether your teeth are yellow because of stains or worn-out enamel? 

The easiest way to recognize whether your teeth have enamel erosion or are stained is to look at the color of your teeth. If your teeth are yellow and the color is uniformly distributed on the tooth’s surface, it’s usually due to enamel erosion. If the stains are brownish, it’s a sign of stained teeth. 

If you suffer from enamel erosion, you’ll also experience sensitivity and may feel pain when consuming cold foods. Also, while coffee and tea are usually the main causes of tooth stains, citrus juice and acidic foods are more likely to damage your tooth enamel. 

Your tooth enamel may also wear away with vigorous brushing and abrasive whitening products, so make sure you’re using toothpaste for sensitive teeth (on Amazon) if you experience cold sensitivity. 

Remedies for Yellow Teeth

Before looking at remedies, avoid foods and habits that will cause your teeth to stain. Proper oral hygiene is usually the best way to cure yellow teeth. If regular brushing and flossing don’t remove the yellow stains, you can use whitening agents after consulting your dentist. 

Effective remedies for treating yellow teeth include: 

Proper Oral Hygiene 

The best way to prevent your tooth discoloration is regular brushing and flossing. Poor oral hygiene may result in bacterial growth on your teeth, causing the enamel to wear away.

Always be sure to brush after eating sugary and acidic foods as these will damage the enamel much faster. However, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush.

Also, fill in all cavities and treat other dental problems as soon as they come to light to prevent permanent tooth discoloration. 

Over-the-Counter Whitening Agents

Over-the-counter teeth bleaching agents, like Crest 3d Whitestrips (on Amazon), are the go-to solution for most people to treat teeth discoloration. However, these treatments may make the issue worse if your teeth suffer from enamel erosion or you have sensitive teeth. 

Dental Whitening Procedures

Laser bleaching teeth at dantist room

If your teeth are yellow because of staining or enamel erosion, your dentists may use professional bleaching agents to treat your yellow teeth. This treatment is usually more effective than over-the-counter whitening agents, and your dentist will only use products that won’t make your teeth more sensitive. 

Should You Whiten Your Teeth?

If the stains on your teeth don’t go away despite regular brushing, you can use whitening products to whiten your teeth. However, avoid over-the-counter teeth bleaching agents or whitening toothpaste until you’ve checked the issue with your dentist.

If your teeth are yellow because of thin or damaged enamel, using whitening products will only make matters worse. 

Always use teeth whitening products after your dentist allows you to do so, and avoid using ones that are abrasive and may cause the enamel to wear off. If your teeth remain yellow or have stains despite using these whitening products, you should visit a dentist for professional teeth whitening treatment. 

Dentists have more effective whitening solutions that will have an instant effect on your teeth. They may also install a shield over your teeth to protect the enamel and prolong the whitening effect. 

Ways to Prevent Teeth Discoloration

The best way to prevent discoloration is to avoid drinks and food that cause your teeth to stain. This includes tea, coffee, blueberries, tomatoes, and other such foods.

While you don’t need to cut these from your diet completely, you should lower your intake of these foods. If you’re a smoker, quitting the habit will help prevent teeth discoloration. 

However, most people struggle to cut coffee and other foods from their diet. The best way to prevent teeth discoloration without changing your diet completely is to practice good oral hygiene.

Floss your teeth once a day and brush at least 2-3 times daily. Also, don’t forget to get a dental checkup every 6 months. 

Leave a Comment