Discolored Teeth

San Antonio Dental Office

Teeth lose their pearly whiteness in many ways.

Our teeth get stained by everything from coffee and tea to red wine and chocolate. For example, cavities create brown or black spots. In addition, some medications can cause browning, and worn down teeth turn yellow. Click below to learn more about each type of tooth discoloration.

  1. Stained Teeth
  2. Spotted Teeth
  3. Yellowed Teeth
  4. Blackened Teeth
discolored teeth can be made white again

1. Discolored teeth are Stained Teeth

White Teeth Are Like White Shirts – They Attract Stains!
Our teeth absorb stains daily from drinks like coffee, sodas, tea & wine as well as from colored foods like chocolate, chicken mole and chili. Although daily brushing removes some of the stain, over time it continually darkens. Finally, one day we look in the mirror and see a yellowish-brown smile smiling back. How do we get back to white?

discolored teeth can be made white again

Various foods contribute to stained teeth.

Gross Alert!

Sometimes “stain” is actually accumulated gunk on the teeth. How can you tell? If you see that your teeth become yellow or chalky around the gumline, make an appointment for a professional dental cleaning. Our skilled hygienists know how to gently remove all the gunk. In fact, our hygienists even know special techniques to reduce built up coffee stains! Removing stain and gunk gets teeth back to their natural white in no time.

“But I Get My Teeth Cleaned Regularly!”

First off, if you’re getting your teeth cleaned regularly (i.e. every six months), great job! So, it sounds like you see your dentist for regular cleanings but your teeth aren’t getting white enough? You’re a great candidate for whitening. Either because of age, diet or a few other possible culprits, your teeth are tending to be yellower even though they’re clean. Whitening will get them to the white you want.

discolored teeth can be made white again

Teeth can also be stained with bacteria-filled calculus.

Kor Whitening: Professional Strength Teeth Whitening for Gorgeous Smiles
Our patients love the whitening power of Kor. Dentists consider Kor the most advanced teeth whitening system available because it tackles tough stains as well as it handles everyday ones. The new technology behind Kor’s gels not only minimizes tooth and gum sensitivity, but it doesn’t doesn’t need any bulky old lights to activate either. Whether you’re getting ready for a storybook wedding, a job interview or just an everyday confidence boost, Kor makes smiles stand out: cleaner and brighter and whiter.

discolored teeth can be made white again

Discolored teeth transformation using Teeth Whitening Therapy.

2. Discolored Teeth are Spotted Teeth:

Spots and dots are the sign that our teeth need a little extra TLC if we’re going to get them back to pearly white. Spots can be chalky white, gray or brown and may be signs of fluorosis, enamel hypoplasia, demineralization or cavities.

No one loves a spotty smile!

discolored teeth can be made white again

Spotted teeth are stained due to developmental problems.

Fluorosis Spots: Too Much Fluoride

Fluoride makes teeth stronger. That’s why it’s in our toothpaste, our mouthwash and our water. However, getting too much fluoride when teeth are developing can cause unattractive white, brown or gray spots or streaks on our teeth. Whitening teeth with fluorosis requires removing or covering the spots with polishing, cosmetic bondingveneers or crowns.

discolored teeth can be made white again

White spots and patches from fluorosis

Enamel Hypoplasia Spots: Too Little Calcium

When we don’t get enough calcium when our teeth were developing, our teeth develop with weak enamel. Not only are these teeth weaker than normal, but they also have spots where the enamel is thinner than it should be. Dentists call this enamel hypoplasia. Enamel hypoplasia spots occur because of a person’s diet or because they have a genetic condition that makes it hard for them to use the calcium from their food. In addition, these spots often look very similar to fluorosis spots; however, it’s important to tell the difference because enamel hypoplasia spots are a sign of weakened teeth not stronger teeth.

Fixing Hypoplasia Has Bonus Benefits

Whitening teeth with enamel hypoplasia requires repairing and reinforcing the weak spots. Dentists accomplish both by covering these teeth with restorations that hide the spots and reinforce the tooth’s enamel strength. The especially good news is that fixing these spots has a TRIPLE benefit. Your “new” teeth will not only look better, but they will also be stronger AND they will be shielded from hungry cavity-causing bacteria.

Discolored teeth cosmetic problems

Teeth with White Patches of Weakened Enamel

Discolored teeth cosmetic problems thin enamel

Visibly Thin Enamel on the Tips of Lower Teeth

Demineralized Spots: Lost Calcium

When teeth grow in healthy but lose calcium along the way, they develop spots like enamel hypoplasia. Only these spots occur later in life and have a different name: demineralization. Demineralization spots show up most commonly in kids with poor brushing habits and young adults in braces who let plaque build up around their brackets.

How does plaque suck calcium out of teeth? First of all, plaque contains bacteria that produce acid. Furthermore, this acid sucks the calcium out of teeth, leaving behind discolored demineralization spots. These weak spots are how cavities start. To get rid of these spots, a dentist must clean up the plaque and cover the demineralized spot. Not surprisingly, repairing demineralized spots affects more than just how your smile looks. It also strengthens and protects your teeth from damaging cavities!

Cavity Spots: Signs of Decay

Yikes! Some spots are actually cavities and they don’t look good at all. On the image here, you don’t have to be a dentist to see the dark brown cavity that is eating into the front tooth.

Did you spot it?

You can also see chalky white and lighter brown areas on the teeth nearby—those are demineralization spots and smaller cavities.

Cavities form in unrepaired demineralized spots. Repairing a cavity can be as easy as a filling or as complicated as a root canal and crown depending on how deep the infected has eaten into the tooth. Sometimes what appears to be a tiny spot can actually be the tip of a very large cavity inside the tooth. To fix a cavity, we have to remove the dark, infected areas of the tooth and replace it with a filling or crown. This process restores tooth esthetics and function, and protects the nerve.

discolored teeth can be made white again

Discolored Teeth can also be teeth with cavities. 

3. Discolored Teeth are Yellowed teeth:

What’s that Yellow Stuff…?

Plaque? Root? Dentin? When teeth become yellow, it could be caused by a number of things. First of all, yellowing can occur only along the gumline or only at the tooth tips or all over the entire surface of a tooth. The pattern of yellowing holds the key to what’s causing it to yellow.

Gunk and Gums

First, if the yellow develops up along the gumline, you (or your dentist) needs to figure out if the yellow is plaque and tartar or an area of recession. When gums recede up the tooth, it reveals the yellow surface of the tooth root and leaves a sensitive area. A professional dental cleaning will take care of plaque and tartar. Unfortunately, the solution for recession is generally more complex and involves protecting the sensitive root surface, changing in home care routines, gum therapy and sometimes gum grafting surgery to replace lost gum tissue.

tooth discoloration

Recession Reveals Roots

Yellow Stain

Generally, if the yellow covers the entire surface of the tooth, then stain is probably building up from something you’re eating or drinking. In some cases, these external stains can be removed with a special instrument called “prophy jet” during a visit with our dental hygienist.

In other cases, the color change is coming from inside the tooth. Internal stains can be whitened with professional whitening like we discussed in the Teeth Whitening Section.

problems that cause discolored teeth

Yellow Stained Teeth Before and After Dental Cleaning

Yellow Tips.

If you’ve noticed the yellow showing through on the tips or biting edges of your teeth, then you probably also notice that your teeth are starting to level out. The yellow peaking out through the tip is the soft inner part of the tooth, called dentin. Dentin shows through when enamel is worn away. In general, worn teeth get short and even all the way across the mouth with yellow tips and they don’t look good. However, worn teeth also contribute to several serious dental conditions.

all the problems that cause discolored teeth

Wear Reveals Yellow Tooth Tips

Discolored Teeth
Discolored Teeth

From Yellow & Worn to White & Natural!

Fortunately, yellow, worn teeth can be fixed. Of all the problems that cause discolored teeth, worn teeth require the largest scale solutions. Solutions for worn teeth range from custom night guards to jaw joint therapy and cosmetic reconstruction. That being said, intervening early saves money and complications down the road. If you or someone you know has teeth that are visibly shortening or wearing even, talk to us about your options. Save yourself the hassle of losing your teeth early and the expense of a full mouth rehabilitation by seeking help while you have teeth left to fix. We can help you get a whiter, healthier smile!

all the problems that cause discolored teeth

From Worn to White

Discolored Teeth
Discolored Teeth

4. Discolored Teeth are Blackened Teeth

Cavities? Yes. No. Maybe So…? Tooth decay is the most common reason a tooth gets a dark black spot or turns black. Dark colored cavities start small and brown but they get progressively darker as the infection eats into the tooth. Furthermore, other less common causes for blackened teeth include metal showing through an old restoration, the nerve dying inside the tooth and the accumulation of black tartar.

discolored teeth can be made white again

Discolored teeth due to cavities and root exposure.ems.

discolored teeth can be made white again

Teeth Blackened by Old Metal Fillings

discolored teeth can be made white again

Tooth Darkened by Internal Nerve Damage..

Transforming Black to White

  • Black cavities can be repaired by removing the infected, black part of the tooth and restoring it with a filling or crown.
  • Black metal from an old crown disappears when replaced with a new one made from modern, tooth colored materials.
  • Blackening from a dead nerve can be reduced with internal bleaching or covered up with Porcelain restorations.
  • Black tartar can be removed with the appropriate gum therapy.
Discolored Teeth

Discolored teeth due to cavities and root exposure.ems.

Discolored Teeth

Teeth Blackened by Old Metal Fillings

Discolored Teeth

Tooth Darkened by Internal Nerve Damage..

Cavities: Ignore at Your Own Risk!

There are a gazillion ways to whiten teeth these days. You can buy teeth whitening sets at the grocery store, online and even at the mall! Of the issues that cause blackening, cavities are the most urgent. Cavities are not typically noticeable as black spots until they are established infections. The risk of having a major toothache and nerve infection is high when the cavity is large enough to be seen as a black area. Unfortunately, the risk that a tooth will need a major dental restoration like a crown instead of a minor filling also goes up the longer the infected cavity is untreated in the mouth. Treating cavities when they are small is the easiest way to keep dental bills small and teeth healthy.

Discolored Teeth

Find Your Best Whitening Solution – Click below to learn more

Teeth Whitening

Do you wish you had whiter teeth?

If you do, you’re not alone. Teeth whitening is one of the quickest and least expensive?


What if you could have a new smile today?

All of us have something we don’t like about our smiles.


Say Goodbye to the Smile You’ve Never Liked

Your teeth are healthy enough. They just don’t make a great impression.

Sedation Solutions

Dread the Dentist? Imagine Being Able to Sit Calmly in a Dental Chair with NO Anxiety?

Sound Impossible? Dental Sedation helps…

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Whether you have teeth or not, you deserve a smile you can be proud of!

A beautiful smile changes how you look. It also changes how you live. Imagine laughing and eating freely with friends again! If you want to smile with confidence, we can help. Take the first step today. Schedule your consultation!

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